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.

 

Turkey says not reassured by US comments on border force

Trump dashes Netanyahu’s hope to move US embassy to Jerusalem

IS poses threat to Iraq one month after 'liberation'

Britain to put women at heart of peace work in Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan

Bitcoin appeal beats ban and warnings in Jordan

UN chief wants to revive Syria gas attack probe

US has no intention to build border force in Syria

Lebanese intelligence service may be spying using smartphones worldwide

Egypt's Sisi sacks intelligence chief

Cyprus denies bail for Israeli organ trafficker

Rising Yemen currency sparks hopes of relief

Turkish ministries to investigate underage pregnancy cover-up

Iraq PM launches online appeal for election allies

Iran central bank sees claim for billions from German stock market blocked

Iraq signs deal with BP to develop Kirkuk oil fields

Israeli occupation forces raid Jenin, kill Palestinian

HRW chief says 'Nobody should be forcibly returned to Libya'

Seven years since ousting dictator, Tunisians still protest

Iran says Trump jeopardising Airbus deals

China says Iranian oil tanker wreck located

Sudan arrests communist leader after protests

Syrian opposition joins condemnation of US 'border force'

Israeli judge detains teen until trial for viral ‘slap video’

Arab league slams US freeze of Palestinian funding

Dubai billionaire to sell 15 percent Damac stake

Saudi to give Yemen government $2bn bailout

US withholds $65 million from UN agency for Palestinians

Saudi Arabia intercepts new Yemen rebel missile attack

Syria Kurds vow to cleanse enclave from Turkish 'scourges'

Israeli police find missing Briton’s belongings in desert

Algeria gas plant workers mark five years since jihadist siege

UN says over 5000 children killed or injured in Yemen war

European leaders’ response to Iran protests raises questions

Erdogan to visit Pope Francis next month

Iran slams US-backed 'border security force' in Syria

Palestinian suspension of Israel recognition unlikely for now

Jordan to hike fuel, bread prices

Yemen rebels free journalist detained since August

Palestinian reconciliation brings no change for Gazans

Sudan police use force, tear gas against protesters

Both hardliners and moderates have failed Iranians

Erdogan says Turkish military op in Syria's Afrin to be supported by rebels

UAE to lodge complaint over Qatar flight 'interception'

UN says 22 million Yemenis in need of aid

Minorities in north Iraq look to post-jihadist future