On June 24th, Tehran's former mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was announced as the winner of Iran's highly controlled presidential election. The presidential contest, however, was neither open nor free nor fair. The clerical regime's unelected twelve-member Guardian Council barred more than one-thousand would-be candidates from running, among them reformers and women who have worked hard for the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran. President George W. Bush said the regime's actions invalidated the vote:
"It's never free and fair when a group of people, unelected people, get to decide who is on the ballot."
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says that "with the conclusion of elections in Iran, we've seen nothing that dissuades us" from the view that Iran is "out of step" with the reform movements emerging in the region:
"The people who ran for this elections were chosen, basically vetted by the mullahs. Those who didn't meet the criteria for the mullahs weren't allowed to run for an election. So I think that it's another tangible demonstration of where the real power in Iran lies. And we, as you have seen from previous statements, associate ourselves with the aspirations of the Iranian people."
State Department spokesman McCormack says that the Iranian government's handling of the presidential election is the latest in a series of troubling actions that include "the pursuit of nuclear weapons under cover of a peaceful nuclear program, support for terrorism in the region . . . as well as the treatment of [its] own people."
The Iranian people "deserve a truly free and democratic society with a vibrant free press that informs the public and ensures transparency," President Bush said in a statement. "They deserve freedom of assembly, so Iranians can gather and press for reform and a peaceful, loyal opposition can keep the government in check." Iran's clerical regime denies all these rights, shutting down independent newspapers and websites and jailing those who, in Mr. Bush's words, "dare to challenge the corrupt system."
"America believes in the rights of the Iranian people to make their own decisions and determine their own future," said President Bush. America, he said, stands with the Iranian people.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.