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Lawmaker Says Iran Should Have Delayed Elections To Limit Covid-19 Epidemic

Bahram Parsaee representing the city of Shiraz. FILE PHOTO

An Iranian lawmaker says the interior minister rejected his advice to postpone the February 21 parliamentary elections in Iran to prevent the quick spread of the coronavirus.

Bahram Parsaee who represents the city of Shiraz says as soon as there was evidence of infections, he asked the interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli to postpone the elections or at least not hold the vote in the city of Qom, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Rahmani-Fazli last month admitted that the idea of postponing elections had been suggested but he said he had disagreed because any delay would have also postponed the term of the new parliament. He did not explain why he opposed cancelling elections in Qom.

Iran announced the first coronavirus case on February 19, two days before the nationwide poll, but many accuse the government of not revealing the outbreak earlier. Apparently, the first cases existed in Iran in early February.

The critics believe the Islamic Republic wanted a large election turnout and was afraid that news of a viral outbreak would keep people at home. There was also the anniversary of the 1979 revolution days before the government announced the first Covid-19 cases.

The lawmaker, Parsaee renewed his criticism of not quarantining Qom, telling ILNA news agency that if the epicenter had been closed off the disease would not have quickly spread to all provinces.

Iran’s health ministry says there are more than 50,000 Covid-19 cases in the country and more than 3,000 have died, but Radio Farda’s estimates put the numbers at more than 70,000 infections and 5,000 deaths.