Iran rejects criticism of polls

Iran has hit back at international criticism of its parliamentary polls, won by conservatives after most candidates in the pro-reform camp were barred from contesting.

    The reformists have won less than 45 seats this time

    Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said complaints from the United States and the European Union that

    the polls were "flawed" amounted to "unacceptable and interventionist comments".

    But Washington, meanwhile, stepped up its criticism.

    "I join many in Iran and around the world in condemning the Iranian regime's efforts to stifle freedom of

    speech ... in the run up to the election," said President George Bush.

    "Such measures undermine the rule of law and are clear attempts to deny the Iranian people's desire to freely

    choose their leaders."

    "I join many in Iran and around the world in condemning the Iranian regime's efforts to stifle freedom of

    speech ... in the run up to the election. S

    uch measures undermine the rule of law and are clear attempts to deny the Iranian people's desire to freely

    choose their leaders"

    George Bush,
    US President

    With the vote count from Friday's elections looking set to drag on into Wednesday, results showed a likely

    coalition of hardliners, conservatives and centrists on the cusp of winning a majority from the first round.

    Counting was still going on in Tehran, which returns 30 deputies to the 290-seat Majlis.

    But results from more than two-thirds of the ballots counted showed right-wingers set to win about 160 seats.

    In contrast, reformists have managed to win less than 45 seats.

    Some 58 seats will have to be contested in a second round, but with most reformists already eliminated before

    the polls, the second round is certain to produce an even more solid conservative majority.

    Reformists debarred

    Friday's voting was overshadowed by the mass blacklisting of reformists by the Guardian Council, a hardline

    watchdog that screens candidates for public office and vets laws for their compliance with the constitution.

    The US said the polls did not meet "international standards" and were "deeply flawed", given the blacklist.

    And EU foreign ministers called them a "setback for democracy".

    But the foreign ministry there said the critics were "not informed of the realities and the complexities of

    developments underway in Iran".

    And Gholam-Ali Hadad-Adel, head of the conservative Builders of an Islamic Iran - a right-wing bloc poised to

    take all of Tehran's seats - told reporters the EU should avoid making "premature judgements".

    Top regime figures had called on Iranians to vote en masse to deal a blow to the US, with which Iran has not

    had diplomatic relations since 1979.

    Nuclear cooperation

    "We don't want to put the clock back on reforms, we just want to adjust the clock.

    We have certain complaints over things that have been done in the name of reforms and we will try to correct

    them"

    Gholam-Ali Hadad-Adel
    Builders of an Islamic Iran chief

    However, the Builders' party said on Tuesday Iran would continue cooperation with the UN's nuclear

    watchdog and approve tougher International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of its civil nuclear

    programme.

    Hadad-Adel also pledged his party would not reverse the reforms implemented by the previous pro-reform

    parliament and President Muhammad Khatami, although it would seek some changes.

    "We don't want to put the clock back on reforms, we just want to adjust the clock," he said.

    "We have certain complaints over things that have been done in the name of reforms and we will try to correct

    them."

    Amid the criticism, a political battle over the record low voter turnout continued to rage with the interior

    ministry hitting back at conservatives' allegations it was seeking to discredit their win.

    The ministry, responsible for organising the polls, put turnout at 28% in Tehran and 50.57% nationwide - the

    lowest for a major election in Iran's history.

    This was contested by the Guardian Council, which put turnout at a more respectable 60%.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Assad to Putin: Thank you for 'saving our country'

    Assad to Putin: Thank you for 'saving our country'

    Russian and Syrian presidents meet to discuss strategy against 'terrorism' and political settlement options.

    What is behind the covert Israeli-Saudi relations?

    What is behind the covert Israeli-Saudi relations?

    Analysts say that the recent covert ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia are due to a new regional paradigm.

    Is Saudi Arabia becoming a danger to the region?

    Is Saudi Arabia becoming a danger to the region?

    We talk to US Congressman Ro Khanna about power politics and debate Mohammed bin Salman's new strategy for the Kingdom.