Iran election: Khatami’s vote sparks claims of betrayal

Reformist leader Mohammad Khatami criticised for participating in an election the opposition boycotted

Since voting in Iran’s parliamentary vote on Friday, the former reformist president Mohammad Khatami has found himself in the middle of a heated controversy over his participation in an election the opposition largely boycotted.

Iran’s state media, which denounced Khatami for his pro-Green movement views in 2009, devoted significant coverage to his voting.

Many activists, infuriated at his taking part in the poll, accused Khatami of betraying the Green movement. Some said he had marked the end of his political career by “turning a blind eye” to the hundreds of journalists and campaigners behind bars, including Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who were placed under house arrest in February 2011.

Others defended him, however, saying he may have been forced to vote, or as a moderate figure may have had practical reasons to do so. The Iranian activist Hossein Nourinejad, who met Khatami on Saturday, said the reformist leader had voted in an attempt to avert extremists’ plan for a huge post-election crackdown.

Khatami was forced to take to his official website to offer some explanations. In his open letter, Khatami wished for “a mutual understanding of the current situation”, and said he had voted in order to protect reformists from further harm.

Among the many contradictions and paradoxes of Iranian politics was a picture, taken by the semi-official Mehr news agency, showing a young man voting on Friday while wearing a “God bless America” T-shirt.

Vote-counting is still going on. In Tehran, the counting has finished, and the MP at the top of the list is the former parliamentary speaker Gholamal Haddad-Adel, a staunch ally of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Observers believe the race for the position of the next parliamentary speaker will be between Haddad-Adel and the current speaker, Ali Larijani, who has gained his seat for another term from the holy city of Qom. Of the capital’s 30 seats, 25 have gone to the second round.

And finally, the National Iranian American Council, a nonprofit organisation based in the US, has published a very interesting advert in the Washington Post, in the form of a letter from US military officials to President Obama asking him to resist what it calls Israeli pressure for a “war of choice” with Iran.

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from Saeed Kamali Dehghan


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