Monday, June 13, 2005

Khaleej Times Online - Rafsanjani denounces dirty tricks in Iran election campaign

Khaleej Times Online: "

Khaleej Times Online >> News >> MIDDLE EAST
Rafsanjani denounces dirty tricks in Iran election campaign
(AFP)

13 June 2005
TEHERAN - Iranian presidential election frontrunner Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Monday denounced the use of dirty tricks against him, saying his opponents appeared to be well-funded but refusing to name names.


“There is a fundamental problem in this campaign,” the powerful cleric said on state television. “Despite the instructions of the supreme leader, a number of immoral acts have been committed.”

Rafsanjani is a pragmatic conservative who has vowed to save Iran from “extremists” if he is elected on Friday in the contest to find a successor to reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

Out of the other seven other candidates in the race, four are from the powerful hardline camp that Rafsanjani is seeking to marginalise.

“Personally I have been the victim of the worse kind of denigration,” Rafsanjani complained. “Millions of slanderous leaflets have been distributed across the country.”

“We know full well who is responsible and where their money comes from,” said the 70-year-old cleric, who already served as Iran’s president from 1989 to 1997.

Rafsanjani has already come under attack over alleged corruption and the moral conduct of his family.

Informal opinion polls carried by Iranian media have put Rafsanjani ahead. Trailing him are the main reformist candidate Mostafa Moin and the hardline former national police chief, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

But the figures suggest that none of the eight candidates will be able to secure the more than 50 percent of the vote needed to win. That means the top two would have to go into a run-off -- unprecedented in the 26-year history of the Islamic republic.

Qalibaf, also a veteran of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, has been running a particularly slick campaign that has raised some questions over financing.

The competition has also been marked by physical attacks against officials from the embattled reformist camp.

Iran was struck by a wave of deadly bombings in the restive southwestern city of Ahvaz and the capital Sunday, with the Islamic regime accusing US-backed “terrorists” of seeking to destabilise the country just days ahead of the election.

At least eight people were killed and 75 wounded by a series of four blasts outside several public buildings in Ahvaz, an ethnic Arab majority city close to the Iraqi border that is capital of oil-rich Khuzestan province.

Later Sunday, another blast hit a busy square in Tehran, killing two people and seriously wounding at least two others, official media said.

Rafsanjani said the bombings show “that the enemies of the revolution are violent and without pity.”

“They want to stop people from voting, but these kind of acts will have the opposite effect,” he said."

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