Upcoming Iranian elections spark fear of national unrest

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has voiced his concerns that next year’s parliamentary elections could pose a threat to the country’s security and has called for national unity.

Speaking to worshippers at prayers marking the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan, Khamenei said “compared to elections in other countries and those so-called advanced countries where so much betrayal, malevolent acts, conflicts and even murder happen, thank God in our country it is not like that, but still it is a challenge,” he said

in the televised address.

After the contested re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 when huge protests were crushed by security forces, Iran’s ruling elite is keen for the voting next March to pass off without similar unrest. The losing reformist candidates in that election, Mehdi Karoubi and Mirhossein Mousavi, have been under house arrest since February when they called for the first “Green Movement” opposition demonstrations for more than a year.

Human rights groups estimate that more than 100 people were killed in the 2009 unrest, a figure the Iranian government fiercely denies.

Given the current power struggle in Iran, it will be interesting to observe the upcoming elections and see if this time around, the Ayatollah Khamenei endorses yet another stint in government for Ahmadinejad.

Read more here.