Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (25 May): Oil and Politics

The funeral of legendary footballer and manager Nasser Hejazi in Azadi Stadium, Tehran (see 0750 and 1625 GMT)

2035 GMT: The Fire at the Refinery. Ebrahim Nabavi, reviewing yesterday's blaze at the Abadan oil refinery, notes that President Ahmadinejad ordered widespread purges in the National Iranian Oil Company and Oil Ministry during the past two years.

Meanwhile, the NIOC has denied that the refinery was opened too early, leading to errors in construction.

2025 GMT: Football and Politics. Mardomak reports clashes at the funeral of revered footballer Nasser Hejazi (see 0750 and 1625 GMT), with at least 15 people arrested.

The site also posts claimed video of women at the funeral.

2020 GMT: The House Arrests. One of the sons of Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi has denied reports that they were given temporary release as a new house of detention was arranged. He said there has been no contact with his parents for more than 100 days.

2005 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. According to Mojmal News, which appears to link to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, IRGC head Mohammad Ali Jafari has told the President in an informal meeting: "Your position among Sepah [IRGC] has been weakened, [you] can't control them forever."

Peyke Iran adds the note --- covered on EA last week --- that political analyst Hassan Abbasi, in a March 2011 audio, had warned of paramilitary ("Hezbollahi") hatred for Ahmadinejad.

1740 GMT: Parliament Watch. Ali Larijani has easily been re-elected Speaker for the fourth year in a row, winning the support of 212 of the 290 MPs.

1625 GMT: Football and Politics. More claimed footage from the funeral of legendary football goalkeeper and manager Nasser Hejazi (see 0750 GMT) indicates that the occasion was used for political protest.

Chants included "Mubarak, Ben Ali, now it's your turn, Seyed Ali [Khamenei]", "Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein", "Mousavi, Karroubi, must be freed", and "Our Nasser is not dead; it is the regime that has died".

Two of numerous clips of the event:

1540 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. On Tuesday --- Mother's Day in Iran --- 12 female political prisoners were finally allowed face-to-face visits with their families.

Student activist Bahareh Hedayat had her first visit without glass barriers in 13 months. For lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, it was the first such contact in nine months, and for student activist Mahdieh Golroo, the first since February. Leyla Tavassoli was also allowed a visit.

Sotoudeh told her husband, Reza Khandan, that the political prisoners have been holding specialised classes. Khandan said, "My wife, for example, has been holding classes on citizen's rights, a class that has been welcomed by others."

1530 GMT: Subsidy Cuts Watch. Gholam-Reza Mesbahi-Moghaddam, a leading members of Parliament's Economy Committee, says that income from subsidy cuts will not be enough to Iran's production sector.

1520 GMT: Election Watch. The Parliament was voted, by 176-19, to hold an enquiry into a report (see 1120 GMT) that the Ahmadinejad Government paid $80 each to nine million people just before the disputed 2009 Presidential elections.

Part of the enquiry will be to establish who provided the funds.

1205 GMT: The President's Man. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vigourously defended his Vice President Hamid Baghaei, suspended for four years by an administrative court for "numerous violations" as head of Iran's Culture and Heritage Organization.

Ahmadinejad said that on the day that Baghaei joined the President's office, "suddenly all the issues were raised about him". He continued, with reference to Baghaei's alleged manipulation of the process for state contracts, "Unfortunately in our country granting the license to build hotels has become a crime."

Ahmadinejad also defended Baghaei's role in bringing the Cyrus Cylinder, the artefact belonging to the ancient King of Persia, back to Iran from the British Museum.

1150 GMT: Oil and Politics. According to Peyke Iran, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has "implicitly" held President Ahmadinejad --- as the caretaker Minister of Oil --- accountable for Tuesday's explosion and fire at the Abadan oil refinery.

Larijani called on the head of Parliament's Energy Committee, Hamidreza Katouzian, to deal with the issue and provide a report.

1130 GMT: Human Rights Watch. We noted on Tuesday how the Iranian Parliament is promising to "sanction" 26 US individuals for alleged involvement in human rights abuses, naming five of them.

A few more names have emerged, such as the former commander of the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Geoffrey D. Miller, and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,

Perhaps most intriguing is the inclusion of Thomas J. Pickard, who is described as "former FBI chief" (true) and "CIA station chief in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2003" (not sure about that). Pickard "is [also] charged with human rights violations over his involvement in the siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas in 1993, and the death of over 80 followers of the cult."

1120 GMT: Election Watch. So we are now at the point in the political conflict where the Green/reformist charges of manipulation of the 2009 Presidential election are now made by conservative/principlist media....

Aftab alleges that the Ahmadinejad Government paid nine million people $80 each just before the elections, adding that the source of the funds unclear.

1035 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Aftab reports a challenge from Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani to President Ahmadinejad, "If the government doesn't present a plan for merger of Ministries soon, the Parliament will do it."

1030 GMT: Oil and Politics. The New York Times publishes an article complimenting and contrasting with our analysis of the President's attempt to use the Ministry of Oil in his political battle within the Iranian establishment.

The Times claims that Ahmadinejad has backed down in his attempt to serve as caretaker Minister of Oil --- and thus chairing the June meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries:

A senior oil ministry official, Shojaoddin Bazargani, was quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency on Monday as saying that Mr. Ahmadinejad had made “his own decision and will appoint one of his cabinet ministers to attend the meeting.” A Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed the report on Tuesday, putting to rest days of conflicting accounts on whether Mr. Ahmadinejad would be attending the OPEC conference.

1000 GMT: Fashion Watch. Back from a media break to find that Iran's police chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam has again threatened to "deal severely" with women wearnig "bad hijab".

0750 GMT: Football and Politics. Potkin Azarmehr pays tribute to Nassar Hejazi, Iran's legendary goalkeeper and manager, who was also refused the chance to run for President in 2005 by the Guardian Council.

Hejazi died of lung cancer this week. Azarmehr notes some of his last words:

They tell me not to get angry. Do they think I have no pride and expect me to be indifferent to the pains and sufferings of my people? They are imposing subsidy payments and people's living conditions are getting worse, not better, serving people means bringing about their welfare and comfort, but sadly we are witnessing the hardship and poverty of our people. The government says we hand out $40 a month to everyone, do they think the people of Iran are beggars? People of Iran are sitting on top of oil and gas treasures.

More than 15,000 people turned out for Hejazi's funeral in Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

0745 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Hoshang Fana'ayan, a member of the Baha'i faith in northern Iran, has been sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison.

0450 GMT: We will soon post a feature linking yesterday's drama of an explosion at the Abadan oil refinery, blamed on a "testing machine",  as President Ahmadinejad was formally opening a new phase of the facility, with the current political crisis.


The Green Movement and Women's Rights

Kalemeh, marking Women's Day and 100 days since the house arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi, has published statements made by Mousavi a year ago to women activists:

I believe that women have played and will continue to play a Pivotal role Within the Green Movement....The challenges facing women and the issues associated with women's rights within Iran cannot be resolved unless they become a public issue.

There must be no segregation between women and men. Gender segregation is the root cause of the discrimination and the challenges we face. We cannot have an open and fair society unless we resolve the challenges facing women today.

Subsidy Cuts Watch

The Minister of Economics, Shamseddin Hosseini, has denied that the Government is illegally channelling money to fund the support payments in its subsidy cuts programme.

Hosseini said that $5 billion had been taken from Central banks, using proper methods, to fund the payments of $45 per person per month to cover higher prices.

Leading MPs, including prominent Government critic Ahmad Tavakoli, have claimed that the Government has diverted bank resources and the funds of State agencies to cover the payments.

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