Hard-line judiciary head wins Iran presidency in low turnoutMonday, June 21, 2021
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran's hard-line judiciary chief won a landslide victory in the country's presidential election, a vote that both propelled the supreme leader's protege into Tehran's highest civilian position and saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic's history.
The election of Ebrahim Raisi, already sanctioned by the US in part over his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, became more of a coronation after his strongest competition found themselves disqualified from running in Saturday's vote.
That sparked calls for a boycott and many apparently did stay home — out of over 59 million eligible voters, only 28.9 million voted. Of those voting, some 3.7 million people either accidentally or intentionally voided their ballots, far beyond the amount seen in previous elections and suggesting some wanted none of the four candidates.
Iranian State television immediately blamed challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and US sanctions for the low participation. But the low turnout and voided ballots suggested a wider unhappiness with the tightly controlled election, as activists criticised Raisi's ascension.
“That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran,” Amnesty International's Secretary General Agnes Callamard said.
In official results, Raisi won 17.9 million votes overall, nearly 62 per cent of the total 28.9 million cast. Had the voided ballots gone to a candidate, that person would have come in second. Following Raisi was former hard-line Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei with 3.4 million votes.
Former Central Bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati, a moderate viewed as a stand-in for outgoing President Hassan Rouhani in the election, came in third with 2.4 million votes. Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi was last with just under one million.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, who gave the results, did not explain the high number of voided ballots. Elections in 2017 and 2012 saw some 1.2 million voided ballots apiece. Iran does not allow international election observers.
While Iran does not have mandatory voting, those casting ballots do receive stamps showing they voted on their birth certificates. Some worry that could affect their ability to apply for jobs and scholarships, or to hold onto their positions in the government or security forces.
Abroad, Syrian President Bashar Assad immediately congratulated Raisi's win. Iran has been instrumental in seeing Assad hold on to the presidency amid his country's decade-long grinding war.
Separate congratulations came from Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who also serves as the vice-president and prime minister of the hereditarily ruled United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE has been trying to de-escalate tensions with Iran since a series of attacks on shipping off its coast in 2019 that the US Navy blamed on Iran.
Also congratulating Raisi was Oman, which has served as an interlocutor between Tehran and the West.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login