Iranian opposition figures with various political allegiances have set aside differences and united to condemn the 14 June presidential election as a charade, saying the exclusion of candidates showed it lacks legitimacy. Exiled Iranians from different political groups including republicans, leftists, constitutional monarchists and the green movement gathered for a two-day conference in Stockholm at the weekend, organised by the umbrella group United for Democracy in Iran (UDI) to scrutinise the vote. Iran’s constitutional body last week disqualified a large number of candidates from standing in the election and only allowed eight candidates. Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the leading opposition-backed candidate, was among those blocked from standing in the race.
A statement issued at the end of the conference described the vote as “an insult to the Iranians”, saying it violates their rights to free elections. “The policies of the Islamic Republic, both internally and externally, have created numerous crises and placed our homeland in a truly precarious position,” it said. “In these circumstances, the regime in Tehran is staging an election that bears no resemblance to free and fair elections in accordance with international standards.”
Despite holding different and sometimes opposing views about the future of their country, UDI members, say holding a free election is the only way out of the current political and economical crisis in Iran.
“The adventuresome foreign policy of the regime, that has sacrificed Iran’s national interests for the backward and self-serving viewpoints of a few, has positioned our country in unprecedented isolation, brought to bear back-breaking sanctions and imperilled the security of the nation,” the UDI said.
“Free and fair election… is the most realistic and least costly way of bringing different viewpoints together and pave the way for the achievement of democracy to save our country from ruin and chaos.”