Leaders of Iran

Friday, December 17, 2004

Janati calls for massive turnout in Iraq elections

Iran official calls for massive turnout in Iraq elections: "Iran official calls for massive turnout in Iraq elections
Posted: Friday December 17,2004 - 04:28:08 am

TEHRAN (AFP) - A senior Iranian official urged Iraqis to take part massively in next month's elections amid barely concealed expectations here that a high turnout will deliver power to the long oppressed majority who share Iran's Shiite faith.

"If you really want to have a relatively assured future, participate in the forthcoming election and vote massively for those who care about Iraq ," said Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, a leading hardline cleric who heads a powerful watchdog body that vets all legislation and candidates for public office.

"If you want to be saved, you should have a powerful (national) assembly, so you can govern yourselves," Janati said in a weekly prayer sermon broadcast live on state radio.

Janati warned Iraqis that the interim administration's US backers might be tempted to falsify the outcome in favour of pro-Western candidates.

"Iraqi clerics and other caring Iraqi personalities should supervise the elections, since they (the US-led coalition) may do things in order for the people not to reach their desired results," he said.

The main Shiite factions have formed a joint list for the January 30 polls with the backing of spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

They include the Iran-backed Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, another mainsteam religious faction called the Dawa party, and the secular Iraqi National Congress of former Pentagon favourite Ahmed Chalabi, who is now accused of being an Iranian agent.

Members of the interim government opposed to Iran have already hit out at the alliance.

"It is an Iranian list," Defence Minister Hazem Shaalan charged Wednesday adding that one of its leading candidates, Hussein al-Shahrastani, was an "agent" of a country he described as Iraq's "most dangerous enemy".

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, Friday dubbed Shaalan's comments "baseless and unwise.""

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