Iran's parliamentary elections on Friday were not free and fair and did not reflect the will of the people, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
It has been clear for some time that these elections would not be free and fair. The regime has presented the vote as a test of loyalty, rather than an opportunity for people freely to choose their own representatives, he said in a statement.
Iranians voted on Friday in a parliamentary election likely to reinforce Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's power over rival hardliners led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The climate of fear, created by the regime's crushing of opposition voices since 2009, persists. The field of candidates for this election has been limited by the intensified vetting of candidates, and the ongoing repression of dissent, including the continued house arrest of two of Iran's opposition leaders since February 2011, Hague said.
In these circumstances it is not surprising that most of Iran's reformist wing chose not to stand, reducing the elections to an internal competition among regime conservatives. As such, we do not believe the elections can be presented as reflecting the will of the people, Hague said.
Britain has been a vocal supporter of tough sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, which Western nations suspect is aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran says the programme is peaceful.
(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Tim Pearce)