Iran should hold new, more transparent elections

The swearing in for the second term of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been confirmed and is scheduled to occur sometime between the end of July and mid-August. Despite the tremendous amount of opposition, government officials maintain that the June 12 election was not rigged.

However, given the questionable nature of the results, the government should hold new elections under close supervision of a third party in order to declare a winner.

According to Reuters, this election has provoked the biggest and most violent protests since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Iran, the world’s fifth biggest oil exporter and disputer with the West over nuclear programs, should not have to deal with a problem such as this.

One of Ahmadinejad’s opposing candidates, reformist Mehdi Karroubi, has compared the president to the Taliban and strongly criticized Iran’s state-run media. According to CNN, the government controls all of Iran’s media outlets. Moreover, they have restricted all international journalists from covering the events in the country.

If the government had nothing to hide, they wouldn’t have stopped international reporters from covering the elections. They banned international journalists because they were afraid of the truth coming out.

Many experts believed Ahmadinejad would not get re-elected for another term. Since the elections and the media are run by the government, the people have no way of verifying the legitimacy of the results which indicate that he did. Ahmadinejad could have changed the votes in his favor because he runs the government.

There are no checks and balances in a system like this. Iran should have allowed a third party to count the votes and announce the results. If this had occurred then the people likely would not have protested and 17 reported people would not have died.

It’s not too late. The country could hold new elections that would leave no room for government corruption.

Iran’s most prominent human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi spoke in Geneva about the issue. She said there should be new elections under the supervision of the United Nations

“My request would be that in order that things calm down, these elections should be declared null and void and new elections should be organized under the supervision of international institutions,” Ebadi said. “I think if new elections are organized, but if there are no international observers, no matter what the outcome of these new elections would be, it could be protested and rejected by one or the other of the parties.”

If something is not done about the issue, Iran could easily head into a revolution. Though Ebadi said it’s “premature” to speak about a revolution, the angry protests and oppressive reactions in the country are certainly not helping.

The violence that occurred as a result of these demonstrations was blamed on the demonstrators themselves, according to Iranian media sources. Karroubi posted a letter on his Web site stating this was not the case: “The assaults, beatings and murder of innocent people were committed by plain-clothed security forces, not by demonstrators as the Iranian media would like its audiences to believe.”

Though protests can become violent, the number of casualties that occurred and are still happening in Iran should not be so high. The government needs to take control of the situation with peaceful methods rather than resorting to arresting, torturing or killing protesters. By participating in these acts, the government is only making it more obvious that Ahmadinejad is not who is best for the country of Iran.

U.S. President Barack Obama voiced his opinion at a news conference about the Iranian election, reported Reuters. He said he was “appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments.”

He also said, however, that ultimately the Iranian people are the only ones who can judge the fairness of the election, not the United States. A new, legitimate election would give the Iranian people what they want and put an end to the turmoil.

Xhenis Berberi is a senior majoring in political science and economics.