Iran Election Guide

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Iran Live Coverage: Regime --- Detained Opposition Leaders Mousavi & Karroubi Committed "Atrocities"

See also Iran Live Coverage: Supreme Leader "We Will Not Surrender"

1714 GMT: Picture of the Day. Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, freed on a three-day furlough from a six-year prison sentence, with one of her children:

1542 GMT: The Battle Within. Leading MP Ahmad Tavakoli, asserting that the Iranian currency has fallen in value by 55% in the past year, has blamed the Ahmadinejad administration’s policies for exacerbating economic problems caused by international sanctions.

Tavakoli stressed that while 15 to 20 percent of the rise in the cost of transactions can be attributed to the international sanctions, the rest of the economic fluctuations have arisen due to the government’s economic policies, including a five-fold rise in cash liquidity.

The MP said during a monthly meeting of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce that the subsidized government rate for foreign exchange --- offered to some importers and other privileged customers --- must be scrapped. He added that Iranian consumers need to be supported through the introduction of a series of coupons and the rationing of staple goods.

1342 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Mansoureh Behkish, a founder of the Mourning Mothers movement, has been told to report to Evin prison on 29 January to begin serving a six-month prison sentence.

Behkish and 33 other members of Mourning Mothers were arrested while demonstrating in Tehran’s Laleh Park on 9 January 2010. Banned from leaving the country when freed on 17 March 2011, she was arrested again in Tehran on 12 June 2011 and spent a month in Section 209 of Evin Prison.

A Tehran revolutionary court sentenced her to 4 1/2 years in prison in December 2011. On appeal, her sentence was reduced to six months in prison on the anti-government propaganda charge and a suspended sentence of 3 1/2 years for “activities threatening national security".

1258 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Dr. Faoud Moghaddam, an official for a Baha'i on-line university official, has reported to Evin Prison to serve a 5-year sentence.Mohammad Tavakoli, an activist and member of a teachers' union, has been summoned and arrested in Kermanshah.

1211 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Update. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami takes the podium with a call for "unity" --- among the people and among the branches of Government --- as Iran deals with economic problems such as inflation.

Khatami said President Ahmadinejad's appearance before Parliament in Wednesday, defending his economic record as he sees another phase of subsidy cuts, was "positive" in an "intimate and friendly" environment.

The cleric apparently did not repeat his declaration last week that anyone speaking of "free elections" was assisting Iran's enemies. However, he spoke at length of American plots against Iran and said the the Islamic Revolution had "stood like a cedar" resisting those challenges.

0918 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Herman Nackaerts, Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency has said that two days of talks in Tehran over Iran’s nuclear programme ended unsuccessfully on Thursday, but he added --- confirming Iranian media reports --- that further meetings have been scheduled in Tehran for 12 February.

Nackaerts told reporters “We had two days of intensive discussions. Differences remain so we could not finalize the structured approach to resolve the outstanding issues regarding possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program."

Tehran and the IAEA have been in discussions for months over an agreed protocol for inspection and supervision of Iran's nuclear facilities.

0855 GMT: Earlier this month, possibly because of nerves about the public support for June's Presidential elections, some leading politicians and clerics spoke in gentler terms about opposition leaders and 2009 Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

Figures like conservative politician Habibollah Asgharouladi said Mousavi and Karroubi, held for 23 months under strict house arrests, were not "seditionists" although they had been surrounded by those who had pursued sedition. The remarks prompted speculation that, to attract reformists and even the Green Movement into involvement in the campaign, restrictions on the two men would be eased.

That moment seems to have passed. Iran Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei said on Thursday that neither man  could be placed on the Presidential ballot.

That in itself is far from surprising. More striking was Mohseni Ejei's words --- Mousavi and Karroubi had committed "atrocities against the ruling system and the nation".

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