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Reformist Group In Iran Says Pandemic Was Covered Up Because Of Elections

People wearing protective clothings, masks and gloves, attend the funeral of a victim who died after being infected with the new coronavirus, at a cemetery just outside Tehran, March 30, 2020

A pro-reform party in Iran has described the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country as a "super crisis", which got worse because information was withheld prior to February’s parliamentary elections.

Hizb-i Ettehad Mellat Iran branded in English as "Union of Islamic Iran People Party" (UIIPP), was established in, 2015. Most members of the party are former members of the pro-reform Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), banned in 2009.

In its statement on Saturday, April 18, UIIPP has lambasted the Islamic Republic authorities for their lack of efficiency and coordination, as well as sluggishness in making relevant managerial decisions.

The party has implicitly made the accusation that crucial information about the start of the outbreak was not disseminated in time because it could have hurt the turnout in the elections.

This is not the first time the Islamic Republic stands accused of having withheld the news about the coronavirus outbreak because of the elections and the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, both in February.

Some "extremist" groups the statement says, "described the outbreak as a [foreign] conspiracy (against the Islamic republic). They went even further and dismissed the outbreak as a 'lie' intended to discourage people from participating in ceremonies celebrating the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, followed up by the parliamentary elections last February."

Close allies of the Islamic Republic Leader on social media rejected the veracity of any outbreak in its early days and claimed enemies were disseminating such reports to harm the regime.

However, as several figures close to the establishment died of COVID-19, the so-called extremists slowly admitted that the outbreak was not merely a lie and conspiracy.

In an open letter on March 29, 100 Iranian political and civic activists accused the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of turning the outbreak into a national disaster. They also slammed the Islamic Republic President Hassan Rouhani for aligning himself with Khamenei in covering up the facts and attributing the novel coronavirus outbreak in Iran to an "enemy plot".

The activists argued that Islamic Republic leaders covered up the outbreak of the deadly virus, lest it discouraged people from participating in the celebration of the Islamic Revolution in February followed by national elections, adding, "Thus, a golden opportunity to contain the dangerous virus was wasted."

In the meantime, many critics on social media believe that President Hassan Rouhani and his administration's secretive approach towards the coronavirus outbreak has been a serious factor in preventing people from taking the threat seriously and disregarding the necessary restrictions set for combating the disease.