24 February 2004
Bush Says Guardian Council Deprived Iranians of Free Elections
Condemns disqualification of candidates, closing of reformist newspapers
President Bush said he is "very disappointed" in Iran's recent parliamentary elections, citing the unelected Guardian Council's disqualification of 2,400 candidates and the closing of two leading reformist newspapers in the run-up to the February 20 voting.
"I join many in Iran and around the world in condemning the Iranian regime's efforts to stifle freedom of speech," said Bush in a February 24 statement issued by the White House.
He said the United States supports Iranian aspirations "to live in freedom, enjoy their God-given rights, and determine their own destiny."
Following is the text of President Bush's statement:
The White House
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
I am very disappointed in the recently disputed parliamentary elections in Iran. The disqualification of some 2,400 candidates by the unelected Guardian Council deprived many Iranians of the opportunity to freely choose their representatives. I join many in Iran and around the world in condemning the Iranian regime's efforts to stifle freedom of speech -- including the closing of two leading reformist newspapers -- in the run-up to the election. Such measures undermine the rule of law and are clear attempts to deny the Iranian people's desire to freely choose their leaders.
The United States supports the Iranian people's aspirations to live in freedom, enjoy their God-given rights, and determine their own destiny.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)