Mohammadreza Aref

Iranian presidential candidate Mohammadreza Aref spoke about the 2009 election during a radio program, saying: “In the election of 2009, there were overt violations and inappropriate endorsements.”

The 2009 election result was challenged by the reformist candidates, who alleged it had been rigged in favour of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran’s Supreme Leader denied the allegations and gave the green light to government officials to crack down on mass protesters. The candidates, Mousavi and Karroubi, were later put under house arrest, where they remain.

The establishment has accused them of sedition and denies any election fraud took place.

Aref, who is considered one of the reformist candidates currently in the race for the 2013 election, criticized the current political atmosphere, saying people are being asked about how they voted in past elections as a criterion for hiring.

Aref stressed that all media and platforms have been under the sole control of one political group and this needs to change.

While Aref appears to be the chief reformist candidate, the reformist camp has not yet come to a consensus on whether to endorse him.

Hassan Rohani, another approved candidate, also has support in the reformist camp, and the reformist coalition has announced that its final decision about a coalition between Rohani and Aref will be announced next week.

Aref stressed that the greatest challenge facing candidates is “the lack of electoral participation, especially among the youth.”

The presidential election will be held on June 14. The disqualification of moderate cleric Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani has led many progressive forces to question whether they should endorse another candidate or boycott the election.