Iranian police arrest supporters of reformist presidential candidate

Campaigners for Hasan Rowhani are held as police chief promises to confront ‘counter-revolutionary behavior.’

Iranian police have arrested several people campaigning for a reformist candidate in this month’s presidential election, an aide said on Sunday, as a senior official pledged to impose ideological limitations on the race.

The Iranian presidential candidate Hasan Rowhani at a campaign event on Saturday night, after which some supporters were arrested.

Police picked up several supporters of Hasan Rowhani after he delivered a speech on Saturday night, his campaign manager, Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, told the semi-official Mehr news agency.

“Some people were detained on the street after leaving the meeting,” he said.

The 14 June election is to choose a replacement for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who cannot run for a third term as president. Authorities have already pared down the list of candidates to eight, disqualifying Ahmadinejad’s top aide and a former president who could have galvanised opposition to the harsh clerical system.

That was a clear indication that Iran’s rulers did not want an open contest that could end up in a disputed outcome of the type that set off widespread riots when Ahmadinejad was re-elected in 2009.

On Sunday, after the arrests, a top official warned that Rowhani and others would be limited in their election drive.

“Police will confront individuals who have counter-revolutionary behaviour” during campaigning, said the Iranian police chief, General Ismail Moghadam, according to the police website. “It is natural that police have carried out their tasks.”

An exile-based Iranian opposition website reported that authorities had arrested at least seven people who attended Rowhani’s campaign appearance.

It said the arrests were made after participants chanted slogans calling for the release of Mir Hossein Mousavi, an opposition leader and candidate in the disputed 2009 election, who has been under house arrest for more than two years.

A council of advisers to the influential former reformist president Mohammad Khatami has urged Rowhani to unite with the other major reform-leaning candidate, Mohamed Reza Aref.

A statement on Khatami’s personal website expressed hope that the two could form a “united front” to field a single nominee.

Nematzadeh, Rowhani’s spokesman, said the two candidates had not met to discuss the possibility.

Aref’s star has been rising since his performance in a Friday debate of the eight candidates, restoring some energy to the reform movement after their main candidate, the former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was disqualified.

Also on Sunday, four aides to another candidate, Saeed Jalili, were injured in a road accident. Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, is considered a frontrunner in the campaign.

Iran is among the world’s leaders in the number of road accidents per capita. More than 20,000 people are killed on the roads there every year.

Source: Guardian

Latest news
Related news