Baird still wary after moderate wins Iranian election

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa June 3, 2013.

Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie


OTTAWA — So-called moderate Hassan Rohani has won Iran's presidential election according to the Islamist theocracy's interior minister, but that doesn't change Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's view of Iran's government.

"Of the 686 candidates who tried to register as presidential candidates, only eight were permitted to run," Baird said in a statement Saturday. "With Iran's opposition leaders in jail and their supporters having been denied the ability to co-ordinate since June 2009, none of the eight regime-approved candidates represents a real alternative for Iranian voters."

He also said whoever replaces the holocaust-denying, outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad "will simply be another of Ayatollah Khamenei's puppets in the tragic and dangerous pantomime that is life for all Iranians."

"Given the regime's manipulation of the collective will and democratic process, the results of the June 14 vote are effectively meaningless," said Baird.

Iran's government reported a turnout of 72% of voters in Friday's presidential election.

With slightly more than 50% of the vote, Rohani gathered enough support to avoid a run-off election.

Rohani is a smooth-talking diplomat who some consider a moderate because he agreed to a temporary suspension of nuclear enrichment activity when he was Iran's nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005.

However, he's still a part of the Islamist establishment in Iran and has received the endorsement of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

In 2001, Rfsanjani openly mused that the "application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world."

- with files from Reuters

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