Iran’s state TV: Hard-liners win all seats for Tehran in vote

Iranian voters had limited options on Friday’s ballot, as more than 7,000 potential candidates had been disqualified, most of them reformists and moderates. (AP)
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Updated 23 February 2020

Iran’s state TV: Hard-liners win all seats for Tehran in vote

  • Iranian state TV on Saturday announced some partial results, indicating a strong showing by hard-liners in the capital.
  • A range of crises has beset Iran in the past year, including widespread anti-government protests in November and US sanctions piling pressure

TEHRAN: Iran’s state television says that political hard-liners have won all 30 parliament seats for the capital, Tehran.
The television newscaster read out on Sunday a list of the winners, which were topped by former hard-line Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf who got more that 1.2 million votes.
Officials have still not released any figures for voter turnout, which is widely seen as a measure of how Iranians view the country’s embattled theocratic government.
Officials in Iran haven’t announced the voter turnout from parliamentary elections two days ago, but on Sunday the country’s supreme leader accused enemy “propaganda” of trying to dissuade people from voting by amplifying the threat of the coronavirus.
A low turnout could signal widespread dissatisfaction with Iran’s clerical rulers and the system they preside over. Iranian officials usually release turnout figures a day after elections.
A range of crises has beset Iran in the past year, including widespread anti-government protests in November and US sanctions piling pressure on the plunging economy.
In remarks from his office in Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the “negative propaganda” of Iran’s enemies for trying to discourage people from voting in Friday’s elections.
“Their media did not ignore the tiniest opportunity for discouraging people and resorting to the pretext of diseases and the virus,” he said.
Iran reported its first case of the virus two days before the national polls, and six deaths from the illness since then. That’s the highest death toll from the virus outside of China, where the outbreak first emerged a couple months ago.
Iran has confirmed 28 cases in total in at least four different cities, including the capital, Tehran, where some pharmacies have already run out of masks and hand sanitizer.
Schools were shut down in Tehran and four other cities for two days, starting Sunday, to prevent the spread of the virus. Authorities have also suspended football matches and stopped shows in movie theaters and other venues.
Officials across Iran encouraged people to vote in the days leading up to the election, even as concerns over the virus’ spread began to rise.
Voters had limited options on Friday’s ballot, as more than 7,000 potential candidates had been disqualified, most of them reformists and moderates. Among those disqualified were 90 sitting members of Iran’s 290-seat Parliament who had wanted to run for re-election.
Iranian state TV on Saturday announced some partial results, indicating a strong showing by hard-liners in the capital.
On the eve of the vote, the Trump administration sanctioned five election officials and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed the election as a “sham.”
Meanwhile, authorities in Iran said they would begin disinfecting Tehran’s metro, which is used by some 3 million people, to stymie the spread of the virus. The government has also closed down schools and religious seminaries in the holy city of Qom, where the virus first killed two elderly patients last week.
Iraq and Pakistan, which share borders with Iran, have taken preventive measures to limit the spread of the virus from Iranian travelers. Infected travelers from Iran already have been discovered in Lebanon and Canada..
Saudi Arabia has ordered anyone traveling from Iran to wait at least 14 days before entering the kingdom as it seeks to prevent the spread of the virus to the Muslim pilgrimage sites of Makkah and Medina.
Also on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif joked about shaking hands with his visiting Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg and told reporters: “We have to shake hands with them, don’t worry I don’t have coronavirus.”
Last week, Schallenberg said that he would travel to Tehran amid efforts by European countries to keep alive Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers. Regional tensions have steadily risen since the US withdrew from the landmark deal.


Prisoners riot in Iran, region’s worst COVID-19 outbreak

Updated 9 min 49 sec ago

Prisoners riot in Iran, region’s worst COVID-19 outbreak

  • Iran had temporarily released around 100,000 prisoners as part of measures taken to contain the pandemic
  • Prisoners broke cameras and caused other damage in two sections housing violent criminals

TEHRAN: Prisoners in southern Iran broke cameras and caused other damage during a riot, state media reported Monday, the latest in a series of violent prison disturbances in the country, which is battling the most severe coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East.
Iran had temporarily released around 100,000 prisoners as part of measures taken to contain the pandemic, leaving an estimated 50,000 people behind bars, including violent offenders and so-called “security cases,” often dual nationals and others with Western ties.
Families of detainees and Western nations say Iran is holding those prisoners for political reasons or to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations.
The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Gov. Enayatollah Rahimi of the southern Fars province as saying a riot broke out at Adel Abad Prison, the main lockup in the city of Shiraz. Rahimi said prisoners broke cameras and caused other damage in two sections housing violent criminals. No one was wounded and no one escaped.
IRNA reported Friday that 70 inmates had escaped Saqqez Prison in Iran’s western Kurdistan province. Prisoners beat guards during the chaos, a local prosecutor said. Several inmates later returned on their own to the prison.
Since the beginning of the year, riots have broken out in prisons in Aligudarz, Hamedan and Tabriz as well, with some prisoners escaping, IRNA reported.
Iran has reported more than 38,000 infections and 2,640 deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
The virus causes mild symptoms, including fever and cough, in most patients, who recover within a few weeks. But it is highly contagious and can be spread by people showing no symptoms. It can also cause severe illness and death, particularly in older patients or those with underlying health problems.
The virus has infected more than 720,000 people worldwide, causing more than 34,000 deaths, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. More than 150,000 have recovered.