First Published: 2017-04-20

Iran bans live election debates
Iran says presidential debates to be ‘broadcast pre-recorded’ in accordance to guidelines including not smearing country’s ‘image’.
Middle East Online

Live debates have been hugely popular feature of last two elections

TEHRAN - Iran's interior ministry said Thursday there would be no live debates in the run-up to next month's presidential election.

"Based on a decision by the Election Campaign Monitoring Commission, the election debates of the candidates will be broadcast pre-recorded," interior ministry spokesman Seyed Salman Samani said.

President Hassan Rouhani, who has registered to run for a second term in the May 19 election, called for the decision to be reviewed.

"I don't want to interfere... but I would like the election headquarters to review these discussions," he said, according to state news agency IRNA.

The election commission also issued guidelines for the debates, telling candidates they are not allowed to "blacken the image of the country... or the actions of the executive, administrative, legislative or judicial bodies".

Live debates have been a hugely popular feature of the last two elections in 2009 and 2013, with many analysts saying Rouhani's performance was key to his surprise victory last time.

Conservative candidate Alireza Zakani slammed the ban, saying it would "seriously damage transparency".

The heated TV debates in 2009 between hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his reformist opponents fired up the electorate and were seen as partly responsible for the post-election unrest that occurred when Ahmadinejad was re-elected amid allegations of vote-rigging.

More than 1,600 people have signed up to run in the election on May 19.

That number will be whittled down by the conservative-dominated Guardian Council in the coming days, with around half-a-dozen candidates normally permitted to stand.

 

Qataris to do hajj on Saudi king expenses

Veteran crisis manager Ouyahia recalled as Algeria PM

Saudi Arabia, Iraq draw closer with wary eye on Iran

Iran’s Karroubi on hunger strike over 6-year house arrest

Civilians stay on frontlines despite dangers in Raqa

Iraq acknowledges abuses in Mosul campaign

Netanyahu under fire for response to US neo-Nazism

Israel to free high-profile suspects in money laundering probe

Spanish police shut down jet-ski migrant smugglers

Syrian actress, activist Fadwa Suleiman dies in Paris

Israeli court extends detention for Islamic cleric over ‘incitement’

UAE to provide $15 million a month to Gaza

Sudan's Bashir 'satisfied' with Nile dam project

US-backed rebels say American presence in Syria to last ‘decades’

Tunisian clerics oppose equal inheritance rights for women

Israel strikes almost 100 Hezbollah arms convoys in 5 years

UN hopes for eighth round of Syria talks before year’s end

LONG READ: How Syria continues to evade chemical weapons justice

Civilians killed in US-led raids on Raqa

Qatari pilgrims begin flooding into Saudi by land

Turkey arrests 9 more journalists for alleged ‘Gulen links’

Saudi Arabia to restart work on Grand Mosque expansion

Algeria reshuffles cabinet, nominates three new ministers

Syria rebels lose heavyweight faction

ICC orders Mali ex-jihadist pay 2.7 m euros for Timbuktu destruction

Libya seeks to ‘organise’ NGOs carrying migrant rescue Ops

More than one million South Sudan refugees in Uganda

Beirut, Damascus pledge to boost economic ties

Two killed on Gaza-Egypt border

Fire breaks out at UNESCO heritage site in Saudi Arabia

Iran military chief in Turkey for talks on Syrian war

Saudi Electricity announces $1.75b in international loans

Israel to strip Jazeera journalist of press credentials

Bahrain state media accuses Qatar of trying to topple regime

Iran's Khamenei blasts US over Charlottesville

Libyan forces snub ICC over warrant for commander

Iran’s detained opposition leader starts hunger strike

Arab fighters struggle to make impact in battle for Raqa

IS suicide bombers kill seven Iraqi security personnel

Lebanon repeals 'marry your rapist' law

Qatar’s sovereign fund plans new investments despite sanctions

Turkey asks Germany to investigate 'top coup fugitive' sightings

Iran laments ‘hypocritical’ US religious freedom report

No single pattern in radicalisation of foreign fighters, says Tunisian study

Turkey tells Iraqi Kurds that referendum risks ‘civil war’