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Iranian Conservatives Allege Election Fraud

An elderly man registers to cast his ballot at a polling station in Tehran on May 19, 2017.

President Hassan Rouhani’s main challenger in the May 19 election has once again accused the incumbent’s government of engineering violations in the voting procedure.

“The Guardian Council (GC) should look into these violations; otherwise, it will be detrimental to the people’s trust,” said Ebrahim Raisi on May 28.

In a speech in his stronghold city of Mashhad, Raisi said the events of the recent presidential election were “unprecedented.”

“There were too many engineered violations in the voting procedure. All of the government facilities, including ministries and governor’s offices, were acting as [Rouhani’s] campaign headquarters,” he said.

The challenger, who lost the election, also insisted that a government incapable of acting in accordance with the law should not have a role in elections.

“On the eve of voting day, [Rouhani’s government] paid cash handouts to the people whose subsidies had already been canceled and cut,” Raisi said. “At the same time, it paid back years of accumulated government debts to farmers in one chunk.”

Raisi also said the candidacy of the president’s first deputy, Eshaq Jahangiri, was “a shrewd ruse” to defend Rouhani’s record during presidential debates.

“The government’s official daily, Iran, bombarded Rouhani’s challengers with false accusations, and this was another example of misusing government facilities in his favor,” he said.

Rouhani, for his part, had earlier accused those institutions supervised directly by the supreme leader -- including the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC); the financial empire of Imam Reza’s shrine, which Raisi heads; National Iranian Radio and Television; and the judiciary -- of interfering in the election in favor of Raisi.

There have also been accusations that Raisi’s campaign handed out perks to some people to “buy” their votes.

Rouhani and his supporters have accused Raeisi of hiring buses to take people to his rallies and sending villagers candies wrapped in sacred green cloths to lure them into voting for him. Moreover, the challenger of misusing the name of Shi;ites eighth Imam, Ali Bin Moussa al-Reza, to gain votes. “As a judge, you may do whatever you want to do, but please do not drag Imam Reza into politics,” Rouhani addressed Raeisi, without directly naming him.

In his May 28 speech, Raisi also complained about what he described as “keeping my supporters out of the voting booths for hours and, in the end, depriving them of the chance to cast their ballots.”

The Interior Ministry has denied such accusations.

Meanwhile, Rouhani implicitly accused the GC of prevented him from winning 4 million additional votes, which would have raised his total to 28 million.

According to Rouhani, the GC waivered in not allowing people to vote just by presenting their National Registry numbers as IDs.

The GC retaliated by saying Rouhani was “misinformed” on the matter.

Raisi and his campaign headquarters emphasized they have handed over documents concerning the violations to the GC. They have not presented the details to the public, so far.

In its May 25 edition, the daily Kayhan, a conservative newspaper under the supreme leader’s direct supervision, reported what it claimed were electoral violations.

“Election supervisors were wearing green and purple bracelets in voting sites which was clearly against the law,” the newspaper said.

While purple bracelets are the emblem of Rouhani’s supporters, green bracelets are the symbol for supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has been under house arrest for more than six years.

Kayhan has also reported claims that on the day of voting Rouhani’s campaign headquarters were illegally open and active, playing anthems for supporters assembled outside.

The conservatives are complaining of vote-rigging and irregularities, while since 2009 they have labeled the protests against Ahmadinejad’s disputable re-election as “sedition.”

The GC is expected to approve the results of last week’s election on May 30. Its chairman, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, has reiterated that the result will be approved even though “there have been some irregularities and violations.”

But it seems, that since the election, conservatives are trying to use any chance they get to chip away at what many say is the “mandate” Rouhani has received by his 57% victory at the polls.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei must ratify the GC’s approval before Rouhani can be officially declared the 12th president of Iran.