Iran Election Guide

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Iran Live Coverage: The Supreme Leader Admits A Crisis

See also Iran Feature: The Top 10 Stories of 2012 --- A Currency Falls, Sanctions Expand, and Political Prisoners Continue to Resist
EA Special: 10 Predictions for 2013 --- Assad Gone, an Angry Middle East, and Little Change on "Human Rights"
Monday's Iran Live Coverage: All-Is-Well Oil Alerts

2040 GMT: Labour Front. More than 500 workers at the Safa Pipe factory have begun a fourth round of protests over conditions and the delayed payment of wages.

A worker said the demonstration began Saturday after employees were not paid in more than six months.

1940 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Popular singer and activist Arya Aramnejad was summoned today to serve his 91-day sentence.

Aramnejad has been detained on several occasions, including a five-month stay in prison from November 2011 to April 2012.

1340 GMT: The Battle Within. In a setback for President Ahmadinejad, Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei has said the Government cannot merge ministries without the approval of Parliament.

This autumn Ahmadinejad tried to create a new "super-ministry" from the existing Ministries of Communications and of Roads and Transport. The proposed head for the new Ministry of Infrastructure, Ali Nikzad, is seen as a close Ahmadinejad ally and --- if the President's right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai is disqualified by the Guardian Council --- as a possible candidate for President in June 2013.

1335 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Bloomberg carries the story --- reported by EA on Sunday --- that Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has been placed in solitary confinement for three weeks in Evin Prison.

Hashemi, serving a six-month sentence for propaganda against the regime, was punished on Saturday for "breaking prison regulations", according to Iran Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei.

The activist has been prominent among female political prisoners protesting their conditions and harassment of their families.

1055 GMT: The House Arrests. Will opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, held under strict house arrest for 22 months, be freed before the June Presidential election?

Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi has added his voice to a group of senior figures saying that, while Iran has always had to deal with seditious elements, this did not mean that opponents wanted to overthrow the nezam (system).

Last week, leading conservative politician Habibollah Asgarouladi was explicit in declaring that Mousavi and Karroubi, both candidates in the disputed 2009 Presidential election, had been surrounded by "seditionists" but that they had not sought the collapse of the Islamic Republic.

On Monday, Iran Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei held the line, saying there had been no change regarding the status of Mousavi and Karroubi, seized as large protests emerged in February 2011.

1045 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. For the second day in a row, President Ahmadinejad has thrown political punches at his opponents by accusing them of corruption.

Opening construction projects in Kermanshah Province, Ahmadinejad said the Iranian people get only 30% of the country's oil income and that only a handful benefit.

On Monday, the President repeated his claim that "300 or 400 people" control a majority of the Islamic Republic's economy.

0935 GMT: Elections Watch. The most interesting numbers from Mehr's poll of 1246 people in Tehran raises doubts about mass support for the regime through participation in the 2013 Presidential election

Only 42.9% said they were "highly motivated" or "somewhat highly motivated" to vote. For 20.1%, there was "little motivation"; 19.3% were "scarcely motivated", and 15.9% were "not motivated".

Only 46.8% said they will vote or are likely to do so. Almost 32% said they will definitely not vote, while 7.5% probably will not, and 13.4% said they had not decided.

More than 80% of Iranians voted in the 2009 Presidential election, but its disputed outcome and crackdown on those who challenged the result has raised questions about future participation.

The regime declared 64% turnout for the March 2012 Parliamentary elections, but that claim has been treated sceptically by many observers.

0715 GMT: On the surface, the statement from the Supreme Leader is a fairly bland declaration:

Officials and the conscientious should make plans and conduct administrative affairs in such a way that the people’s minds will be at ease about the issue of (medical) treatment.

This, however, was not just a superficial statement for an audience of donors. With that sentence, Ayatollah Khamenei was acknowledging the serious problems that have arisen in health care in the Islamic Republic.

In recent months, Iran has been beset by shortages of drugs, medical supplies, and services. The growing number of people affected could not be denied, Iranian State media had to carry out a tricky manoeuvre. Having denied any effect from sanctions --- indeed, having insisted that those sanctions were hurting the "West" which had imposed them --- they now put out the line that suffering and deaths were due to the restrictions.

That, however, was only the start of the challenge, as officials and politicians began a blame game. Leading authorities, including Minister of Health Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, were accused of mismanagement. Dastjerdi, in response, exposed a possible crisis in funding --- she said that the Central Bank had refused to provice $2 billion needed for import.

Dastjerdi received her answer last week when she was fired by President Ahmadinejad. But that, of course, does nothing to address the problems.

And I am not sure the Supreme Leader's injunction to "Try Harder" will, either.

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