Two former presidents, Khatami and Rouhani, and former speaker of Majles, Nateq Nouri, backed Masoud Pezeshkian

Former Presidents Call on Iranians to Vote as Boycott Campaign Grows

Thursday, 06/27/2024

Prominent politicians in Iran weighed in on the issue of election Wednesday, with two former presidents endorsing the "moderate" candidate and several opposition figures calling on people to boycott Friday’s election.

Mohammad Khatami and Hassan Rouhani, each leading Iran’s government for two 4-year terms between 1997 and 2021, have come out in support of Masoud Pezeshkian –who has served as Khatami’s Minister for Health.

The two former presidents encouraged Iranians to turn up at the polling stations Friday and use their vote to keep out the hardliners from the executive. Their message stood in stark contrast to that of leading opposition figures who asked people to stay away from the ballot boxes and not recognize the “show” election.

“The most peaceful way to show your opposition to this blatant oppression, and to send the message of “No to the Islamic Republic”, is to boycott the upcoming farce of an election,” said well-known activist and former prisoner Hossein Ronaghi in a video message Wednesday.

Joining Ronaghi’s call from prison was Faezeh Hashemi, former lawmaker and the daughter of another former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Before her, other voices from inside Iranian prisons had called for a boycott of the election, most notably, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate activist, Narges Mohammadi –who called the election “staged”.

The upcoming presidential election in Iran features five hand-picked insider politicians, after one hardliner, Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, quit the race in support of three other hardliners. The hardline camp are worried that their vote would be divided, allowing the only ‘moderate’, Pezeshkain, to move ahead at the vote.

Existing polls show that at least half the eligible voters may shun the election on Friday. This will be Iran’s first presidential election after the widespread uprising in 2022, in which at least 500 were killed and thousands arrested. Many of those who took to the streets across Iran and bore the brunt of the state’s brutality, have once more turned against the system with their call to boycott the election.

In a joint statement Wednesday, several mothers of slain protesters and dissidents called the upcoming election a "circus" that Iranians have to ignore, focusing instead on other ways to pressure the system to change.

"We will not stop seeking justice until we get our right to try and punish the criminals who innocently executed and shot our children,” they said.

Several student organizations and women's right groups also encouraged Iranians not to vote Friday. Over the weekend, over 500 teachers, union activists, and prominent cultural figures in Iran similarly issued a joint statement publicly declaring their decision to abstain from participating in the upcoming presidential elections.

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