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Emad Afrough: Don't expect Iranian People to Participate in Elections

By Mohammad Reza Yazdanpanah, Rooz Online

Negative View on Upcoming Elections by Principlists

Emad Afrough Former Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supporter Emad Afrough has predicted that the elite will not participate in the upcoming Majlis elections thus negating the possibility of change in the next Majlis or massive public participation in the elections.

This Principlist activist (principlists are those who believe in the essence of the Islamic revolution of 1979, supporting ayatollah Khomeini, Khamenei and even Ahmadinejad, although more recently some of them, like Afrough, no longer support Ahmadinejad) told Khabar Online news site (close to Majlis speaker Ali Larijani) that because of the events prior, during and after the 2009 disputed presidential election, there “shall be no massive participation of elite and the public in the upcoming Majlis elections.”

He said he too would not be a candidate in the elections.

Afrough was among the original theoreticians of the Hezbollah movement during the 1990s and a staunch and vocal critic of Mohammad Khatami’s reformist administration, the sixth reformist Majlis and generally the reform movement. In 2005, he was, along with Mohammad Khoshchehreh, the key theoretician for those supporting Ahmadinejad for his first presidential term.

Public Loss of Trust

Afrough’s remarks come at a time when observers, activists and journalists have begun to make public predictions about the nature of the next Majlis elections scheduled to take place on March 2, 2012. This debate began when veteran and respected journalist Massoud Behnoud said at a VOA Persian language program called Parazit that he predicted about a 60 percent turnover in the Majlis race. His words brought about a wave of criticism and confirmation in political and media circles.

Photo: June 2009 presidential elections

Supporters of the regime believe that because of the recent developments in the country and in the region, there will be large public participation in the elections, while opponents of the administration believe just the opposite, particularly because of the disputed 2009 presidential election.

Afrough is a Principlist who believes in the velayat faghih (rule of clerics, the foundation principle of the Islamic revolution) but on this subject his views resembles those of a faction of the Green Movement that has been calling for political reforms in Iran.

“Without making changes to existing conditions, we cannot be optimistic about the upcoming ninth Majlis elections,” he told Khabar Online. “A public distrust” has taken place and certain events have taken place prior, during and after the 2009 tenth presidential election that must be repaired,” he continued. Afrough believes that there is no trust in the upcoming election by the elite who want to run for the Majlis and by the public who wants to vote for their candidates.

Regarding the “repair” that he mentioned, he adds, “accusations have been made for which no evidence has been provided and for which there has been no apology.” It appears that these remarks are related to the accusations that Ahmadinejad has aired against Hashemi Rafsanjani and his family, Nategh Nouri’s son, Mohsen Safai Farahani and others during the 2009 presidential campaign and debate with Mir Hossein Mousavi. Rafsanjani’s family has filed a lawsuit in a court of law against Ahmadinejad in this regard, even though the judiciary of the Islamic republic has not taken up the case.

In his interview, Afrough made it clear that while he criticized both sides (reformers and the administration) his greater criticism was against those “in power and the administration.” This university professor also suggested some solutions. “Apologies should be made,” and the judiciary should independently confront those who engage in unethical behavior,” he added. Only then, he said, could one expect and hope that something positive would emerge.

The results of the 2009 presidential elections that the Islamic republic proclaimed to have been won by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been staunchly rejected by three other presidential candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karoubi, and Mohsen Rezai. Millions of Iranians, mostly supporters of Mousavi, poured into the streets in all major Iranian cities for months protesting the officially announced results. The regime rejected the accusations and responded with violent and lethal force, wounding and killing a large number of protestors, while also jailing thousands.

Eventually, Mousavi and Karoubi, along with their spouses too, were put under house arrest in the winter of 2010, thus cutting their communications with the outside world.

Khatami’s Conditions

The issue of participating in the upcoming Majlis elections was perhaps originally launched in the debate circles of Iran when former two-time president Mohammad Khatami announced specific conditions that the reformist wanted in order to run for the Majlis. As a first step, he expressed his hope that the regime would “end the incarcerations, and guarantee basic and civil freedoms.” He also said that institutions that have been constitutionally, religiously and legally barred from getting involved in politics - such as the armed forces and the security agencies - should be prevented from engaging in politics.

Photo: June 2009 presidential elections

Another prominent reformist who was arrested after the 2009 presidential turmoil and remains in prison today Mostafa Tajzadeh has called on reformers, through an interview with Kalameh news site, to refrain from participating in the Majlis elections thus questioning its legitimacy. This member of the Sazemane Mojahedin Enghelab Islami (the Organization of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution) and Jebhe Mosharekat Iran Islami (Participation Front of Islamic Iran) stressed on Khatami’s conditions adding that “there was no middle way,” for reformers who would participate only if the elections were free. He has said that reformers had to leave no way other than free elections for the regime. “Until June 12, 2009, I believed that we should participate in all elections, regardless of its conditions and even strive to attain a minority faction in the Majlis, that is participate even if we objected to the elections,” he said. “But the Green Movement in my opinion has redefined that ,,, so that we should not participate in the election and leave them to organize it themselves so that differences would magnify and intensify,” Afrough strategized.

In his interview with Khabar Online, Afrough also said that he had no doubts that “direct or indirect” rigging had taken place in the last presidential election, adding that he was a close witness to the interference of the executive branch in the election process.

Prior to Afrough, Hamid-Reza Fooladgar, a Majlis member had also said that “the one or two interferences” of some Guardian Council members in the election had resulted in “notices being given to them.” In this regard, Majlis representatives had earlier requested an investigation into the charges that “illegal money had been distributed among 9 million citizens” by Ahmadinejad’s administration on the eve of the 2009 presidential election.

Afrough was a Majlis representative in the eight parliament and was a critic of Ahmadinejad’s administration. He did not run for the Majlis after than but has said he has received threatening calls, which he said he had forwarded to state security agencies.

... Payvand News - 07/15/11 ... --

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