NUSA DUA (AFP) - Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the United States Thursday to stop interfering around the world and dismissed its elections as a “battleground for the capitalists”.

Ahmadinejad, whose own 2009 disputed re-election sparked protests that were brutally crushed, told a forum in Bali island intended to promote democracy that the Western system meant only the wealthy few held power.

At the start of the two-day Bali Democracy Forum, attended by leaders including Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Iranian president criticised the situation in Europe and the US.

“An election, which is one of the manifestations of the people’s will, has become a battleground for the capitalists, and an excuse for hefty spending,” he said, speaking one day after US President Barack Obama was re-elected.

An estimated $6 billion was spent in US federal races, making the 2012 general election the most expensive poll in American history, experts have said.

Ahmadinejad added that “democracy has turned into the rule of a minority over the majority”. He said there were social problems and rights abuses “even in countries who claim to be the forerunners of democracy”, without singling out any particular nation for criticism.

Iran is regularly criticised for its own human rights record, such as the high number of executions.  Ahmadinejad also dismissed the outcome of the American election as not important and urged the US to withdraw from military bases around the world and end its “spirit of intervention and interference” in other countries’ affairs. “Coming or going, winning or losing, is not important. The important thing is the (US) policies and behaviours and these behaviours must change,” he said. The president again insisted that his country’s disputed nuclear programme, which has led to crippling international sanctions, was for peaceful purposes. The West suspects Iran is trying to make an atomic bomb.

“Today there is the development of some weapons even more dangerous than atomic arms,” he added without elaborating. It is the first time that Iran has attended the democracy gathering, now in its fifth year. Critics say it is seeking to use the meeting to combat its growing isolation as UN and European Union sanctions bite.

Attending the summit “fits in perfectly with the Iranian government strategy of building bridges” with countries outside the West, Amnesty International Iran researcher Drewery Dyke told AFP.

Turkey and Afghanistan led calls at the forum for reform of the UN Security Council.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the current set-up of the council, which has five veto-wielding members and 10 non-permanent members with no veto, meant it was up to five countries “to decide on the fate of humanity”.

Erdogan said the Syrian regime, which is fighting an armed rebellion that has claimed thousands of lives, was “encouraged by this bottleneck in the international system”. Russia and China have vetoed resolutions on Syria.

Other high-profile participants at the Bali meeting include Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. There is tight security for the event, which has in the past attracted few top names, with some 2,300 police deployed to guard key areas.

The resort island last month held 10th anniversary commemorations for the October 12, 2002 nightclub bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.