The Shura Council has passed an article granting the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) the right to set election dates. The law change on Sunday was made in response to a High Constitutional Court decision in May that deemed four articles in the parliamentary election law unconstitutional. The president has the authority to call referendums and can set the date of elections if the House of Representative (lower house of parliament) is dissolved, the article adds.
Middle East and North Africa
Articles about voting issues in the Middle East and North Africa.
Hassan Rouhani has hailed his election as Iran’s president as a “victory of moderation over extremism”. The reformist-backed cleric won just over 50% of the vote and so avoided the need for a run-off. Thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Tehran when the result was announced, shouting pro-reform slogans. The US expressed concern at a “lack of transparency” and “censorship” but praised the Iranian people and said it was ready to work with Tehran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged continued international pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear programme. ”The international community must not give in to wishful thinking or temptation and loosen the pressure on Iran for it to stop its nuclear programme,” Mr Netanyahu told his cabinet, according to a statement released by his office.
Kuwait’s constitutional court forced new parliamentary elections Sunday, dissolving the current chamber on the basis of flaws in the election law, the state news agency reported. The decision may set the stage for a new wave of political showdowns in the Gulf nation. The ruling follows objections to the voting law in December’s election, which was boycotted by opposition groups and others who claimed the new rules favored Kuwait’s ruling family and were imposed without public debate.
Iranian officials spent Saturday tallying the votes the nation’s presidential election, with a surge of interest in the contest apparently swinging the tide in the favor of the most moderate candidate in the field. But with only a fraction of the vote counted, it was uncertain whether any single contestant would exceed the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff next week. With long lines at the polls Friday, voting hours were extended by five hours in parts of Tehran and four hours in the rest of the country. Turnout reached 75 percent, by official count, as disaffected members of the Green Movement, which was crushed in the uprising that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election, dropped a threatened boycott and appeared to coalesce behind a cleric, Hassan Rowhani, and the mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf. Iran’s interior minister, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, said Saturday morning on state television that preliminary results showed Mr. Rowhani with a strong lead, followed by Mr. Ghalibaf. Mr. Najjar did not say when the final result would be available. Iran has more than 50 million eligible voters and as of late Saturday morning nearly eight million votes had been counted.
In the end, Iran’s presidential election may be defined by who doesn’t vote. Arguments over whether to boycott Friday’s ballot still boiled over at coffee shops, kitchen tables and on social media among many liberal-leaning Iranians on the eve of the voting. The choice, once easy for many who turned their back in anger after years of crackdowns, has been suddenly complicated by an unexpected chance to perhaps wage a bit of payback against Iran’s rulers. The rising fortunes of the lone relative moderate left in the race, former nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani, has brought a dilemma for many Iranians who faced down security forces four years ago: Stay away from the polls in a silent protest or jump back into the mix in a system they claim has been disgraced by vote rigging. Which way the scales tip could set the direction of the election and the fate for Rowhani, a cleric who is many degrees of mildness removed from being an opposition leader. But he is still the only fallback option for moderates in an election that once seemed preordained for a pro-establishment loyalist.
Tens of thousands of Gmail accounts belonging to Iranian users have been targeted in an extensive hacking campaign in the weeks leading up to the country’s closely watched presidential elections on Friday, Google Inc said on Wednesday. The U.S. Internet company, which described the attacks as broad “email-based phishing” attempts seeking to trick unsuspecting Gmail users into giving up their user names and passwords, said they originated in Iran and appeared to be “politically motivated in connection with the Iranian presidential election on Friday.”
The Egyptian Shura Council’s Sunday decision to delay the voting rights of police and military personnel has stirred up debates and controversy in the dispute-stricken country. The upper house of parliament made the decision only a few days after the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that security personnel should vote in elections since the new constitution says “all citizens have the right to vote.” Based on a request by Assistant Defense Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs Mamdouh Shahin, the Shura Council on Sunday agreed in principle to prepare the voting database of police and military personnel in a number of distant stages.
Showing his distrust in the institutions of judiciary and Election Commission, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has threatened to launch a protest campaign after Eid if its reservations about the election results are not removed. “We’ll take to the streets after Eid if poll rigging is not investigated in a transparent manner,” Imran Khan said at a press conference on Monday. The PTI chief, who has yet to take oath as MNA, said he would raise the issue in his maiden speech in the National Assembly. He said it was baffling that the PML-N, which had obtained only 6.8 million votes when it was at the peak of its popularity (in 1997), managed to secure 10.4 million votes in the May 11 elections.
Nearly 50 million people are eligible to vote in Friday’s elections in Iran – almost 70% from the capital, Tehran, and the major cities while about 30% of voters come from rural areas. There are nearly 70,000 polling stations and, according to the authorities, nearly one million people are involved in making sure the vote will go smoothly. All a voter needs to cast a ballot is his or her birth certificate, which will be stamped to show that they have voted. Also, they will have to press their thumbs into an ink pad to make sure there are no repeat voters. Voters will be given a ballot paper on which they will have to write the name of their candidate of choice. Those who cannot read or write will be helped by those inside the polling stations – this is always the cause of speculation as a source of irregularity.
Despite four years of non-stop pressure, arrests and intimidation, Iran’s dissidents still find ways to show their resilience. Protest messages still ricochet around social media despite Iran’s cyber cops’ attempts to control the Web. Angry graffiti pops up and then quickly painted over by authorities. Mourners at the funeral of a dissident cleric flashed V-for-victory gestures and chanted against the state. But just a look at the sidewalks around Tehran’s Mellat Park shows how far Iran’s opposition has fallen as the country prepares for Friday’s presidential election.