Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (24 October): How To Instantly Become an Iranian Citizen

See also Iran Video Interview: Ahmadinejad Puts Out His Standard Lines to CNN's Zakaria
The Latest from Iran (23 October): Qaddafi Visits the Supreme Leader

1835 GMT: No-Irony-at-All Elections Watch. A leading member of the Islamic Constancy Front, Morteza Agha Tehrani, has urged authorities to safeguard the coming elections and ensure that “votes are not stolen and there is no cheating".

The Constancy Front was established earlier this year by supporters of President Ahmadinejad and his allies. It has been at odds with other conservative factions who have sought a unified front for next March's Parliamentary vote.

In a meeting on Saturday in Qom, Agha Tehrani said: “If you truly want competent people to be elected to office, do not steal or buy votes and do not cheat.”

1605 GMT: CyberCrime. Minister of Communications and Technology Reza Taghipour has declared that the use of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and proxies is a “crime": “Now VPNs have been cut off in the country because their use is a legal violation.”

With a VPN, Internet users can get access to internet providers outside Iran by using ISPs within the country. Iranians have been using the VPNs and proxies to circumvent strict censorship by the Islamic Republic of foreign and domestic websites.

1600 GMT: Campus Watch. Minister of Higher Education Kamran Daneshjoo has said that those participating in protests will not get grants for study: “We cannot and the nation will not allow us to mete out money from the Teasury to those who oppose the regime… and wherever we are informed that the bursary recipients are supporters of the sedition, we will definitely cut off the grant.”

1555 GMT: The Plot. Manssor Arbabsiar, the Iranian-American accused of planning the assassination of the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the US, pleaded not guilty Monday in federal court in New York.

The next court hearing is scheduled for 21 December to allow the defense time to study documents.

1525 GMT: Economy Watch. BBC English posts a video on the state of Iran's labour law, amidst union demands that it be re-written and 40% of the country's manual workers hired without contracts and paid by the day.

1445 GMT: Currency Watch. The Iranian rial has weakened to 12,850 to the US dollar, nearing its level of 13,000 before the Central Bank intervened in September.

The free market rate is now more than 20% beyond the official rate of 10,730 to the dollar.

1435 GMT: Protest Watch. The Mothers of Mourning, prominent in the months after the 2009 elections, have reportedly gathered again in Laleh Park in Tehran. They have the freeing of all political prisoners, with UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed pursuing cases of abuse.

1425 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Mixed fortunes for the President today....

Shargh claims that the Government owes hundreds of thousands of tomans to banks, social welfare agencies, and the private sector.

However, the drive to interrogate the President appears dead. Ali Motahari, the Government critic who resigned as MP, admitted as much even as he praised 71 legislators who signed the call for questioning.

Mohammad Hossein Farhangi, a leading MP in the process, said that several Parliamentarians withdrew their signatures in oral statements and interrogating Ahmadinejad is out of the question.

1415 GMT: Press Watch. Like the opposition TV station RASA, the website Rah- Sabz has asked for financial support, warning that it might have to end services on 15 November.

1010 GMT: Rumour of the Day. Diplomatic sources claim that a trip by Iranian Foreign Minister to Beirut has been postponed after President Ahmadinejad said, with respect to Syria, "Nobody has the right to kill others, neither the government nor the opponents."

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry confirmed Salehi’s two-day trip had been postponed, with no new date set, but did not give the reason for the postponement. Salehi was due to meet with the Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, President Michel Sleiman, and Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

0825 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Saudi Front). Iran and Saudi Arabia may be at each other's political throats over regional issues and the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US, but that has not stopped President Ahmadinejad from offering condolences to Saudi King Abdullah over the death of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz.

Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi also sent a message to Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz.

to express his condolences over the Crown Prince, who died on Saturday in New York at the age of 81.

0525 GMT: We start this morning with a declaration by Minister of Economy Shamseddin Hosseini at an international conference on investment opportunities in Alborz Province, "A national headquarters has been set up to support investors, and foreign investors will be also granted honorary Iranian citizenship."

Hosseini explained, "The President has established a delegation to reduce bureaucracy in the investment sector," and said foreign investment in Iran grew 124% in 2009 and 2010. (He did not give the figure for 2011.)

Hosseini's instant citizenship plan may face some obtacles. The Obama Administration is putting out the story that US and European officials will discuss sanctions on Iran's Central Bank this week, with the administration's top man on Iran sanctions, Undersecretary of Treasury David Cohen, travelling to Europe on Sunday.

US and European officials have held back from sanctioning the Central Bank because it could elevate global energy prices  as Tehran, the world's third-largest oil exporter, find itself unable to complete sales. The Obama Administration convened a meeting of high-level officials from the Treasury, the White House and the State Department last week to discuss the matter, include ways of targeting the bank without formally announcing sanctions. 

And the Minister of Economy, amidst economic problems and a $2.6 billion bank fraud, may have a problem closer to home. On Sunday, Parliament moved closer to his impeachment, calling for his interrogation and demanding his report within 10 days.

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