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Iran: Reformist Congress in limbo after government sets tough conditions

Source: Radio Zamaneh

A senior reformist figure says the Reformist Congress that was scheduled for later this month will not take place.

Cartoon: Iranian Reformists (see high resolution)

Rasoul Montajebnia, a member of the National Trust Party, told the Bahar News website on Saturday January 12: "Last week, a number of organizers in the Coordination Council of the Reformists were invited to a meeting with a number of government officials."

He added that the reformists were presented with three conditions to hold the congress.

According to Montajebnia, all participants in the congress would have to declare that they were not involved in the 2009 election protests and that they did not support the two reformist candidates in the 2009 election who are now under house arrest.

The two candidates, MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, accused the government of rigging the 2009 vote count and they refused to accept the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This was followed by mass street protests with millions asking where their votes were.

The government refused to heed the demands and violently cracked down on the protests, ending the street demonstrations after scores of deaths, widespread arrests and incarcerations and finally by putting the opposition leaders under house arrest.

Following these events the reformists were pushed out of the political arena, and many of their leading figures are currently serving heavy sentences.

Montajebnia added that the second condition for holding the reformist congress is "the acceptance of all the current election laws, including their executive and supervisory regulations."

Many reformists have criticized the role of the Guardian Council in supervising the elections. The powerful body has been accused of having a heavy bias toward conservative candidates when it comes to determining the eligibility of candidates.

The third condition was reported to be that members of outlawed parties cannot be part of the congress; reformists have been told that if they meet these conditions, they can apply for a permit from the interior ministry.

Two top reformist parties, the Islamic Iran Participation Front and Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution, were banned after the election protests.

According to Montajabnia, the reformists that attended the meeting have said that the conditions and the nature of the exchange have forced them to conclude that they will not be allowed to hold the congress and have, therefore, so far refrained from applying for a permit.

The next presidential elections are slated for June of 2013, and the reformist congress was an attempt on the part of Iranian reformists to test the waters for returning to the political arena and presenting their candidates in the elections.

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