Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used a recent sermon to reiterate his rejection of any attempts to influence Iran’s elections.
In the sermon at the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad on March 21, marking the Iranian New Year, Khamenei said, “I don’t interfere in the presidential election. I’ve never told people to elect this one or not elect that one. However, I will interfere when I see any of those people who want to stand in the way of the people’s vote, who aim to create a disturbance and to damage the people’s vote.”
The audience listening to Khamenei greeted the Supreme Leader’s words enthusiastically with the customary cries of “Takbir” [the invocation to praise God] and “Allahu Akbar”, as well as shouting favourite regime slogans like “Ali Khamenei is the greatest leader”, “Death to those who oppose Wilayat-e Faqih” [Guardianship of the Jurist] and “Death to America! Death to England! Death to Israel!”.
After these cheers ended, Khamenei continued, saying, “Anyone who seeks to play with [manipulates] the people’s votes, I will stand in his face.
In the past few years, I’ve taken the same stance in previous elections, such as those in 1997, 2005, 2009 and 2013. Some fraudulent activities took place in front of people’s eyes, and the people have been notified of this. With some fraudulent activities, the people didn’t know about them, but I, the humble man, told the people about them. All those years that I mentioned to you, there were people who sought to stand in the way of the election as in 2009 when those people [a contemptuous reference to the Iranian demonstrators who protested against the election results that year] took to the streets and made it clear. But in recent years the attempts to manipulate the people’s elections were conducted in different ways. In all these years, I stood up and said that the results of the election, whatever the people’s wishes, must be acknowledged. In these conditions, I would interfere in the course of the election; I mean, I stand in the way of the opposition and opponents to the election, but in the rest of the legal matters, no, I will not interfere and everything must be carried out exactly by the letter of the law itself.”