Iran cabinet backs putting off poll

Iranian cabinet ministers have backed calls to postpone the upcoming parliamentary vote and vowed not to hold a sham election, a government spokesman has said.

    Cabinet meeting followed mass resignation by reformist MPs

    "An overnight emergency meeting of the cabinet unanimously agreed to support a call by the Interior Ministry to postpone elections," Abd Allah Ramezanzadeh told AP on Monday. "The cabinet also agreed not to hold elections that are not competitive, fair and free."
     
    Iran's powerful, hardline Guardian Council ultimately decides when an election is held. However, the government's position strengthens the hand of reformists demanding a boycott over mass Council disqualifications of liberals seeking office.
     
    Hardliners may have to resort to extraordinary measures - perhaps even relying on the elite revolutionary guards and other armed forces - simply to hold elections on 20 February as scheduled.

    President Muhammad Khatami, who has been confined to his home due to a severe back pain, did not attend the meeting. Instead, the cabinet meeting was chaired by First Vice-President Muhammad Reza Arif, Ramezanzadeh said.

    Conditions non-existent

    The decision was made after Interior Minister Abd al-Vahed Mousavi Lari presented a report saying conditions for free elections did not exist.

    Khatami did not attend Monday's
    emergency meeting

    Five ministers, who were assigned last week to reach a compromise with the Guardian Council over disqualifications, told the Cabinet their efforts had failed.

    Reformists accuse the Council of disqualifying liberals to fix the election in favour of conservatives. The Council denies political motives, arguing the disqualified did not meet legal criteria to stand for election.

    But more than 80 of the disqualified were sitting lawmakers who had been vetted in the past. They resigned on Sunday.

    The furor began in early January when the Guardian Council, whose 12 members are appointed by Iran's supreme leader, Ayat Allah Ali Khamenei, disqualified more than 3600 of the 8200 people who filed papers to run in the polls. After protests and an opinion from Khamenei, the council restored 1160 low-profile candidates to the list on Friday.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.