By Bahram Rafiei, Rooz Online
At a time when the protestors of the controversial 2009 presidential elections, along with reformist political parties and personalities have been advocating non-participation in the March 2 parliamentary elections, the supreme leader of the Islamic state has called those who oppose participating in the elections "pawns and foot-soldiers" of the "infidel and oppression" front and foresees that the forthcoming elections will be "lively," with a 65 percent participation and that "the intervention of people will be enemy-busting."
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei voting in June 2009
In his speech on Monday to a group of state officials and the people from Qom, ayatollah Khamenei focused on the forthcoming Majlis elections. Pointing to the importance of the event, he said, "From a long time ago the center and base of the infidels and imperialists, all the way down to their peons and foot soldiers and inside and outside Iran, there has been a wide effort to reduce the level of public participation in the Majlis elections. But with the help and grace of God, public presence will be enemy-busting."
Elsewhere in his talk he said that the event would be the source of "new joy and fresh blood in the body" of the Islamic state, cautiously adding that along with this, there would also be some "negative events" which he said had to be "watched to be prevented".
After that introduction, the supreme leader characterized the dispute-ridden 2009 presidential election as providing him with the "best memories in the massive and amazing presence of forty million people at the ballot box" and the "worst memories about political fraud committed by some unfit, ignorant and some antagonistic people in the elections."
He acknowledged that there could always be some people who protest an election, adding that "the law had identified the course" for such an event. "In the 2009 election, some people had chosen the path of breaking the law, imposing costs on the country and people, making the enemy happy and implementing plans desired by the enemy. But they did not succeed because people were present. So long as people are in the field, nobody in the country can advance unlawful acts," he said.
These remarks by Iran's supreme leader come despite the broad outcry by protestors to the last presidential elections about the perpetration of "massive electoral fraud" and execution of an "electoral coup" during the elections, calling for the "annulment of the election results, release of political prisoners and political parties, end to the closure of media, expression of sympathy with people, and the launch of new elections."
During more recent months, Mir-Hossein Mousavi was the first who said in September "One could not be optimistic about the elections and participation in them." Then in December, Mehdi Karoubi announced his opposition to participation in the Majlis election and in a meeting with his wife said, "They want to organize an imposed election and by rejecting candidates and annulling the results of some voting districts and filling the ballot boxes with fictitious voters, ... repeat the plan that was executed in the 2009 elections."
Karoubi, Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard whom ayatollah Khamenei has called "unfit," "ignorant," and "at times antagonistic," and whom "people in the field" prevented from achieving their goals, were illegally and without any trial or even charges arrested and have been held under house arrest since February 14, 2011.
Political parties and personalities, including political prisoners, have expressly said since the 2009 elections and more so recently that they would not participate in the upcoming Majlis elections and would not support any group or candidate either.
In his speech, ayatollah Khamenei also addressed the candidates for the Majlis and said, "Competition is not the same as animosity and mutual accusations. Competition does not mean proving yourself by negating others. It is also not making unlawful promises to acquire votes."
With the last elections on his mind, the leader also said, "Officials who are responsible for elections, in the government, the ministry of interior and the Guardians Council have to make every effort to protect the public vote and ensure a healthy election. Everyone should know that there is nothing above the law."
"The association of candidates with the centers of wealth and power is very destructive," he said.
Ayatollah Khamenei has made a number of warnings regarding interference in elections. Earlier, in the month of May/June when his differences with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came into full public view and as the leader's close appointees make public accusations of the president's efforts to interference in the 2009 presidential election, speaking to a group of Majlis representatives he warned that "nobody should interference in elections in any way so that process would take its lawful course and the Majlis would convene based on the votes of people.
The ayatollah's emphasis on a "lively" public participation in the upcoming elections comes amid the announcement by reformers and protestors of the 2009 elections that they would not vote in March while the only group that would be participating are the Principlists who have remained divided despite frequent efforts to unify them, with some supporting the president while others opposing him as they support the supreme leader. Just last Saturday, Ali Saeedi, the representative of ayatollah Khamenei in the Revolutionary Guards claimed that "polls indicate that 60 to 65 percent of the public would participate in the elections for the ninth Majlis, disregarding those who advocate boycotting it."
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