‘I am not going to vote’: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to abstain from most restricted election in Iran’s history

‘I am not going to vote’: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to abstain from most restricted election in Iran’s history...
news.yahoo.com 19/06/2021 Politics

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By Roland Oliphant
Thu, June 17, 2021, 9:06 PM
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not vote in Friday’s presidential election in Iran and warned that the outcome would produce a government without a popular mandate, in another blow to the credibility of the most restricted poll in the Islamic Republic's history.
Mr Ahmadinejad, who was president of Iran from 2005 to 2013, said he would exercise his "personal right" to abstain after what he described as the disenfranchisement of voters.
“I am not going to vote. And the main reason is that I am witnessing that a major part of the people are put aside,” Mr Ahmadinejad told The Telegraph after praying at the Emanzadeh Zeyd shrine in the textiles quarter of Tehran’s grand bazaar.
“A weak government is coming to power. And a weak government will weaken the situation in Iran. It will weaken the domestic situation and it will weaken our relations with the world. It will turn our relations with the rest of the world against Iran.”
Mr Ahmadinejad was one of several candidates barred from running in this year's election by Iran's powerful Guardian Council.
But he still commands the populist touch that propelled him to the presidency in 2005, and his comments chime with an almost mutinous public mood.
Friday’s election will elect a successor to Hassan Rouhani, the reformist-minded president who has ruled Iran since 2013 but is barred by term limits from running again.
Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric and head of the judiciary who is believed to be the favoured candidate of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is widely expected to triumph.
But polls are predicting a turnout of as low as 40 per cent, down from 73 per cent at the last election in 2017, with voters citing frustration at Mr Raisi's preferential treatment and a general weariness with the political class across the spectrum.
“Not me, not anyone in my family, none of them are voting”, said Reza Fathi, a 29-year-old who scrapes a living on commissions he earns for persuading shoppers into the carpet shops. “And this is because of mistrust.”
The Guardian Council of clerics always vets presidential candidates, but this year it was particularly strict, barring almost all the reformists as well as popular hardliners, including Mr Ahmadinejad and Ali Larijani, the conservative former speaker of parliament.
Of the remaining seven, three have now withdrawn to leave the field clear for what many say is simply a coronation for Mr Raisi.
The other candidates are Mohsen Rezaee, a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Sayyid Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashem, a conservative MP, and Abdolnaser Hemmati, a former governor of the central bank.
One joke going round Tehran on Thursday was: “There are four rotten fruits on the plate, and you’re free to choose one.”
“Why?” said one man, when asked if he was going to cast his ballot. “Which thief should I vote for?”
"If I go and vote, I will vote for change," said Zeraafat Moradi, a 60-year-old widow who sells office supplies on the street. She said her son had been left jobless after Mr Rouhani came to power.
"They say Mr Raisi is making better promises and he is head of the judiciary. Maybe he can bring hope to realisation better than the others."
Mr Hemmati, who is considered Mr Raisi’s main challenger, is the only representative of the moderate wing of Iranian politics on the ballot.
But he carries the unfortunate burden of association with the outgoing government's economic programme.
Mr Rouhani’s greatest achievement was the 2015 nuclear deal, an agreement with the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China to ease sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme.
The promised economic revival was torpedoed when Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018, saying it did not address concerns about Iran’s missile programme and support for militant groups across the Middle East
Two years later the coronavirus pandemic arrived, adding further pain to an economy struggling with hyperinflation, unemployment and corruption.
The authorities are doing their best to persuade voters to head to the polls.
State television is full of breathless election coverage, and huge posters using the hashtag #myvote and inspirational quotations from Mr Khamenei, the supreme leader, have been pasted up across the capital.
Mr Khamenei has even likened failure to vote to treason.
“Those who are discouraging the people from participating in the elections are working to weaken the Islamic government in order to turn the country into a parade ground for terrorists,” he said in a pre-election address on Wednesday that may well have been aimed at Mr Ahmadinejad.

---Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not vote in Friday’s presidential election in Iran and warned that the outcome would produce a government without a popular mandate, in another blow to the credibility of the most restricted poll in the Islamic Republic's history. Mr Ahmadinejad, who was president of Iran from 2005 to 2013, said he would exercise his "personal right" to abstain after what he described as the disenfranchisement of voters. “I am not going to vote. And the main reason is that I am witnessin ---
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