TEHRAN: Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the immediate holding of free presidential and parliamentary elections in a letter to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The call, from a man whose name is synonymous with the bloody repression of mass protests against his controversial 2009 re-election, marked a new act of defiance against a political establishment that has long since turned against him.
Ahmadinejad made no specific reference in his letter to a wave of unrest that swept Iran over the new year but it comes as the country´s divided political factions argue over how to respond.
“The immediate holding of free presidential and parliamentary elections – of course without their being engineered by the Guardian Council and without interference by military or security bodies so that people have a free choice – is an urgent necessity,” he wrote.
The Guardian Council is a powerful vetting body which oversees all elections in Iran and which barred Ahmadinejad, among others, from running for president last May.
The council rejected Ahmadinejad´s call for early elections and hit back at his criticism of its supervisory procedures.
“The country has no need for… elections right now because all elections are conducted in a legal and sustainable manner,” council spokesman Ali Kadkhodai said.
Parliamentary elections are not due before 2020 and the next presidential election is due in 2021.
Kadkhodai charged that Ahmadinejad had himself sought to get round the rules in the 2009 election by pressing it to publish the results before the legal time-limit.