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Thursday, 17 February, 2000, 21:11 GMT
Iran's 'violent political game'

Iran election rallly singing Iranian women sing a pro-Khatami song


On the eve of the elections in Iran, the conservative daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami makes an urgent plea to voters not to allow what it calls the enemies of the country to triumph.

It urges voters to "make certain that 'strangers and the unworthy' will not get the opportunity to undermine and damage the principles of the revolution".

It notes the interest of "America and other satanic powers" in the outcome of the vote, and their claim that Iranians are keen to elect "lovers of the enemy".

"In the next few days both friends and foes of the revolution will witness that people, by voting for religious and capable individuals, who are devotees of imam and the revolution, ensure that the sixth Majlis (parliament) takes shape within the framework of Islamic principles."

Imam Khomeyni, had he been alive, would have urged all to elect "trustworthy and tested" people, the paper said, adding that it was the "the duty of the masses" to "defeat the enemy".

Press freedom hailed

The Ham-Mihan (Compatriot), published by Tehran's former reformist mayor Gholamhoseyn Karbaschi, hit the streets for the first time on Thursday.

It says Islamic liberals want to change "passive participation into critical participation" and attacks the "violent nature of the political game" in Iran.

Mr Karbaschi - a confidant of President Khatami - was himself jailed for two years on corruption charges, which were thought to have been politically motivated, but released after seven months.

His paper hails the recent spread of press freedom, which allowed people to "look at the world in a new and different way".

Moving with the times

The English-language Tehran Times seeks to play down exaggerated expectations of the outcome of the poll.

Even though observers have seen a "revolution within a revolution", Iran is a young nation and is simply moving with the times.

"However, those who expect or predict that 'big changes' will take place in Iran after the elections either do not know the legal framework of the country, or they simply provoke the people to stand up to make the basic changes in the system," the paper's commentator writes.

"Although there may be a more open politico-social atmosphere in the country, which is but natural, this does not necessary mean that the basic pillars of the system will be scrambled."

World stage

The English-language Iran News also draws attention to the parallels between Iran and the rest of the world, arguing that "representatives of our choice on Friday must unmistakably be up to the task of defining our future in the context of the catchword 'globalism'.

"The time for getting engrossed in trivialities of past spats must not, for the good of the whole world, keep us from tending to our immediate mandate, which is making provisions for the future.

"Globalism is on the trot and we will be dragged along too."

'Political suicide'

And the Iran Daily takes up the theme of a more pragmatic electorate, one less concerned with outmoded controversies than with immediate realities.

"Our people want to vote for a parliament that is more concerned about the welfare of the majority and less about the stability of the economic and political elite.

"They will vote for 290 lawmakers who are honest, efficient and updated on the exigencies of the times and need to co-operate with the sitting government.

"To do otherwise would be political, economic and social suicide in a country which has one of the world's youngest populations."

The paper concludes that the new parliament will have to realise that "the picnic is over", and that "practical solutions to practical problems is what Friday's vote will be largely about".

BBC Monitoring ( http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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Full coverage of Iran's landmark elections and the battle for reform

See also:
16 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Iran set for election fight
17 Feb 00 |  Middle East
In pictures: Iran prepares for polls
15 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Countdown to Iran elections
29 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Iran election short-list cut by 670

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