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Iran urges voters to take part in Friday’s presidential election

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(Last Updated On: June 17, 2021)

Iran’s president appealed to voters to set aside their grievances and take part in a presidential election on Friday that record numbers of people are expected to boycott due to economic hardship and frustration with hardline rule.

Hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi and moderate former Central Bank governor Abdolnaser Hemmati are the main contenders after the hardline Guardian Council disqualified several prominent candidates from running and others quit.

President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, urged Iranians on Thursday, as campaigning ended, not to let the “shortcomings of an institution or a group” keep them from voting, an apparent reference to the Guardian Council.

“For the time being, let’s not think about grievances tomorrow,” Rouhani said in televised remarks.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already urged people to turn out in large numbers, saying that would help avert foreign pressures on the Islamic Republic.

Official opinion polls suggest turnout could be as low as 41%, significantly lower than in past elections.

In addition to anger over the disqualification of prominent moderates, grievances include economic hardship exacerbated by U.S. sanctions as well as official corruption, mismanagement and a crackdown on protests in 2019 triggered by rising fuel prices.

The accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian plane in Iran in January last year which killed 176 people also undermined public trust.

“Voting would be an insult to my intelligence,” 55-year-old Fatemeh said, declining to give her second name for fear of reprisals. “Raisi has already been selected by the government regardless who we vote for.”

Prominent dissidents inside and outside the country have called on fellow Iranians to snub the election, including exiled former crown prince Reza Pahlavi and opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, under house arrest since 2011.

On the other hand, many leading reformists have rallied behind Hemmati, including former President Mohammad Khatami, arguing that a massive boycott would guarantee a Raisi win.

Under the Iranian Constitution, the supreme leader, elected for life and responsible for choosing six of the 12-member Guardian Council, holds most of the powers of the state.

Khamenei has the final say on all matters of state and sets Iran’s foreign and nuclear policies.

The vote would have no impact on indirect talks between Tehran and Washington on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the top Iranian negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told Al Jazeera on Thursday.

Polling stations open at 7 a.m. local time and close at 2 a.m. on Saturday. The interior minister told state TV that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, voting will take place outside at 67,000 sites across the country, with social distancing and the donning of face masks. Voters are asked to bring their own pens.

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Five security force members ‘brutally killed’ in Kabul: Sources

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(Last Updated On: July 25, 2021)

Five security personnel were “brutally” killed by Taliban militants in Shakar Dara district of Kabul, sources said Sunday.

The incident reportedly took place in the Haji Paik area on Friday night.

According to the sources, the Taliban militants first tortured and then killed the men.

Gowhar Khan Baburi, Governor of Shakar Dara district, said Sunday that the militants had installed a checkpoint in the Haji Paik area where they identified the security force members.

The Taliban stated that the victims were members of the Afghan security forces but denied its involvement in the incident.

In a separate incident, two military personnel – including a student from Marshal Fahim Military University – were killed in the Kalakan district of Kabul.

The incident happened in the Pule Baboch area close to the district’s compound on Saturday night, sources said.

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China and Pakistan call for ceasefire in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 25, 2021)

Pakistan and China on Saturday called on all Afghan stakeholders to agree to a ceasefire and work together to achieve an inclusive peace agreement and political settlement.

According to Dawn News, the call was made by the two sides during a foreign ministers’ strategic dialogue in Chengdu in Sichuan province in China.

A statement issued by China and Pakistan said the two countries had reaffirmed their commitment to facilitate and support an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” peace and reconciliation process.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation says peace talks are the best way to address Afghanistan issues and that the Taliban cannot impose their “will” on the people of Afghanistan through military force.

Speaking in an interview with Al-Jazeera, Abdullah stated that the Taliban have to seek their goal through peace talks.

“Taliban cannot convert the whole population of Afghanistan into Taliban. Talibanization of Afghanistan is not acceptable,” Abdullah said.

“Peaceful settlement is much better option than the continuation of the war we continue we will continue to make these efforts,” he stated.

“We have different opinions about these things can we find ways to not to fight for imposing our way of life upon the people but to compete for it uh to contest for it through civilian means through peaceful means,” he stressed.

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Abdullah says ‘Talibanization’ of the country not possible

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(Last Updated On: July 25, 2021)

Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, says that the Taliban cannot impose their “will” on the people of Afghanistan through military force.

Speaking in an interview with Al-Jazeera, Abdullah stated that the Taliban have to seek their goal through peace talks.

“Taliban cannot convert the whole population of Afghanistan into Taliban. Talibanization of Afghanistan is not acceptable,” Abdullah said.

This comes as the Taliban have intensified attacks across Afghanistan. According to reports, the Taliban have seized control of half of the districts in Afghanistan.

Abdullah, however, stated that these gains are temporary.

“Yes of course they feel at this moment that they have the upper hand militarily on the ground and that will not last that way,” he noted.
Abdullah says peace talks are the best way to address Afghanistan issues.

“Peaceful settlement is much better option than the continuation of the war we continue we will continue to make these efforts,” he stated.

“We have different opinions about these things can we find ways to not to fight for imposing our way of life upon the people but to compete for it uh to contest for it through civilian means through peaceful means,” he stressed.

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