I have just had a visit from representatives of the National Council of Resistance in Iran (which likes to be thought of as a government in exile). I have previously met their doughty leader Maryam Rajavi (see picture). They were able to throw some additional light on recent developments in their country.
The first and very telling point is that they claim to have received information, leaked from the ruling party, showing that Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, described as the “Supreme Leader of Iran”, issued instructions in advance to the body conducting the recent Presidential elections, to the effect that the turnout should be around 35 million votes, and that twenty million votes should be for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What a great way to run a democracy. The NCRI claims that many of the ballot boxes were already stuffed with Ahmadinejad votes before the election commenced, with the result that (as was widely reported), turnout in many areas exceeded 100%.
NCRI press released the details of the Supreme Leader’s instructions regarding the ballot on the day before the election, and the results were uncannily close to their prediction. Whether or not the full details of the NCRI claims are exactly correct, it is surely clear that the Iranian election result was meaningless, a cynical attempt to clothe a coup d’état in a democratic disguise.
Even if the voting had been fair and valid, Iran still could not pretend to be democratic, since the so-called “Council of Guardians” screens and pre-approves candidates. No one who takes a different view from the régime can stand for election in the first place.
We saw the explosion of public anger in the streets of Tehran, and the brutal repression that followed. It is not clear whether the protests and demonstrations will resume and succeed, or whether the régime’s crack-down will maintain the status quo for now. But the NCRI is calling for free and fair elections, supervised by the UN and/or the EU, with every Iranian citizen entitled to stand as a candidate. In the absence of such elections, it says that the world should not accept the legitimacy of the régime, and if necessary should start to impose sanctions against Iran. I believe that their demands are fair and reasonable, and I support them. And we have a good reason to want to see democracy prevail in that country. A free and democratic Iran could take its place in the community of nations, and would be much less of a threat to regional and global security than the lunatic Ahmadinejad.
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