TEHERAN - Iran's supreme leader said on Wednesday a parliamentary election scheduled for early next year posed a potential risk to the country's security and he called for national unity.
After the contested re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 when huge protests were crushed by security forces, Iran's ruling elite is keen for the voting next March to pass off without similar unrest or, as seems more likely, a low turnout from disaffected voters.
"We have an upcoming election at the end of the (Iranian) year. To some extent elections have always been a challenging issue for our country," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told worshippers at prayers marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"Although, compared to elections in other countries and those so-called advanced countries where so much betrayal, malevolent acts, conflicts and even murder happen, thank God in our country it is not like that, but still it is a challenge," he said in the televised address.