Iranian hard-liners accuse Rouhani of voter fraud, interference

WINNER AND LOSER: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, and defeated presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, Files)
Updated 29 May 2017
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Iranian hard-liners accuse Rouhani of voter fraud, interference

Defeated hard-line candidate Ebrahim Raisi has complained of voter fraud in Iran’s presidential election and called on the judiciary and the election watchdog to investigate, the semi-official Fars news agency said on Monday.
The allegations, likely to stoke up Raisi’s conservative supporters, were among his strongest since losing the bitterly contested May 19 vote to incumbent Hassan Rouhani by a margin of 57 percent to 38.
Indignant at Rouhani’s re-election, hard-liners have vowed to press their conservative agenda. The head of the judiciary on Monday separately criticized Rouhani’s campaign promises to work for the release of two opposition leaders under house arrest.
“Tampering with the numbers of people’s participation is inappropriate. Not sending ballots to centers where the government’s opponent has a chance of getting votes is very inappropriate,” Raisi was quoted as saying.
“I ask the Guardian Council and the judiciary not to let the people’s rights get trampled. If this vote-tampering is not looked into, then the people’s trust will be damaged.”
The Guardian Council is a government body that vets candidates and supervises elections in Iran. It has already approved the results.
But Raisi’s comments were a signal that he and his supporters will continue to put up a fight against Rouhani, who won on promises to increase social freedom, improve human rights and open up the Islamic Republic to Western investment.
His pledges included freeing former presidential challengers Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, along with Mousavi’s wife, who have been under house arrest since 2011 after calling for protests in solidarity with pro-democracy uprisings across the Middle East.
“Who are you to break the house arrests?” Larijani said, according to Mizan, the judiciary’s news site.
Larijani said it was for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council to take an initial decision on the detention of the opposition leaders, after which the judiciary would take over.
During the campaign, Rouhani and Raisi exchanged barbs in debates and speeches using language rarely heard in politics in Iran. Rouhani accused Raisi of abuses while at the judiciary, and was in turn accused of corruption and economic mismanagement. Each denied the other’s accusations.
Raisi, a cleric who served on the judiciary for many years, made his allegations of voter fraud to a gathering of supporters on Sunday night, Fars said. He was also quoted as saying Rouhani had inappropriately used TV, newspapers and government offices for campaign purposes.


HRW: Egypt fight against Daesh threatens humanitarian crisis

Updated 23 April 2018
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HRW: Egypt fight against Daesh threatens humanitarian crisis

  • Human Rights Watch said the offensive has left up to 420,000 residents in four northeastern cities in urgent need of humanitarian aid
  • Daesh group has killed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, mainly in its North Sinai stronghold but also elsewhere in Egypt

BEIRUT: Egypt’s military operations against an affiliate of the Daesh group in North Sinai is threatening to spark a humanitarian crisis, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
The offensive launched on February 9 “has left up to 420,000 residents in four northeastern cities in urgent need of humanitarian aid,” said the New York-based organization.
The campaign “has included imposing severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods in almost all of” North Sinai, HRW said in a report.
“Residents say they have experienced sharply diminished supplies of available food, medicine, cooking gas, and other essential commercial goods.”
The authorities conducting the campaign, dubbed “Sinai 2018,” have also banned the sale of gasoline for cars in the area “and cut telecommunication services for several days at a time,” the report said.
Human Rights Watch also said authorities had “cut water and electricity almost entirely in the most eastern areas of North Sinai, including Rafah and Sheikh Zuwayed.”
“A counterterrorism operation that imperils the flow of essential goods to hundreds of thousands of civilians is unlawful and unlikely to stem violence,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the organization’s Middle East and North Africa director.
“The Egyptian army’s actions border on collective punishment,” she added.
Since the launch of the offensive, the military has distributed images of forces providing humanitarian assistance to people living in the area.
According to the military, residents support the campaign and many have come forward with useful information to help the authorities neutralize the militants.
Security forces have stepped up efforts to quell attacks by an Egyptian militant group that later declared allegiance to Daesh since Islamist president Muhammad Mursi was deposed in 2013. Mursi was forced out by the military, following mass protests against him.
The group has killed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, mainly in its North Sinai stronghold but also elsewhere in Egypt.
More than 100 militant and at least 30 soldiers have been killed in the ongoing operation, according to army figures.