NewsSpecial WireIranian elections fail to draw in crowds

Iranian elections fail to draw in crowds

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Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Mar. 14 – Voting stations were deserted in many parts of Iran on Friday despite calls by senior government officials for a mass turnout in the parliamentary elections, according to eye-witness accounts and reliable reports. Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Mar. 14 – Voting stations were deserted in many parts of Iran on Friday despite calls by senior government officials for a mass turnout in the parliamentary elections, according to eye-witness accounts and reliable reports.

In the usually bustling Iranian capital Tehran, some polling stations only drew a handful of people and several were empty throughout many hours of the day.

One transport worker in Tehran who refused to give his name for fear of reprieve told Iran Focus that he had been ordered to take part in the vote by his superiors or risk losing his job.

“I cast a blank ballot”, he said. “None of these candidates will make a difference. The government have threatened all civil servants that we will lose our jobs if we refuse to participate”.

There was, however, a considerable number of uniformed Revolutionary Guardsmen and agents of the State Security Forces on patrol at most polling stations.

For several weeks, Iranian officials including the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had been promising bustling voting stations across the country. State television has been airing non-stop images of senior officials casting ballots at certain polling stations.

The Iranian opposition had on the other hand urged Iranians to stay in their homes.

The head of the opposition coalition National Council of Resistance, Maryam Rajavi, called on Iranians to “boycott the sham elections”.

The Interior Ministry had announced that some 44 million Iranians were eligible to vote.

Many Iranians have become disenchanted by promises of prosperity offered to them by hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who had vowed to fight corruption in the officialdom and distribute the country’s huge oil revenues.

Several voting stations in the Iranian capital which had been designated for foreign media to monitor had far greater participation than most other centres.

Following strict vetting by the ultra-conservative Guardians Council, close to 2,000 candidates were disqualified, and in most districts it was a question of conservative versus conservative.

Far from being a popularity contest, analysts and the Iranian opposition have described the poll as a manifestation of factional feuding.

“Khamenei showed no mercy by disqualifying all candidates of rival factions prior to the elections. The regime’s supreme leader is keen to remove all internal obstacles in his ‘non-stop’ move to obtain nuclear weapons, devour Iraq, and export terrorism and fundamentalism abroad”, Rajavi said in a statement. The People’s Mojahedin, the main group in her coalition, had for several weeks been urging Iranians to boycott the elections.

Still, the atmosphere in Tehran was more to do with shopping than polling. Many Iranians were busy looking to buy gifts and food in the days leading to the March 21 Persian New Year, or Norouz.

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