Sat, Jun 13, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Ahmadinejad facing defeat at polls

THE GUARDIAN , TEHRAN

Iranians went to the polls yesterday to elect a president after an acrimonious and volatile election campaign that has polarized the country and unleashed mass opposition to hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In the absence of reliable independent opinion polls, experts predicted yesterday that Mir Hossein Mousavi, the moderate “green” candidate, would probably beat the controversial incumbent so long as the result was not rigged.

Saeed Lalyaz, a respected political commentator, said he believed Mousavi commanded the support of 55 percent to 60 percent of voters across the country and warned of a possible crackdown on the opposition if Ahmadinejad were re-elected.

“I worry about the impact of any announcement that Ahmadinejad wins in the first round,” Lalyaz said. “Whoever wins, these people on the streets will not go home easily. If Ahmadinejad is president for a second time I worry about another Tiananmen Square experience.”

Ominously, as three weeks of often passionate campaigning drew to a close, the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRG) warned that any attempt at a popular “revolution” would be crushed.

Underlining the unprecedented scale of public interest in the election, it was reported that more than ten million text messages had been sent on Tuesday alone, apparently reflecting intense efforts to get the vote out and avoid the risk of mass abstentions.

The regime is also encouraging mass participation.

“The people of Iran will choose someone who will resist the bullying of those who are arrogant and defend Iran’s interest in the world,” said a statement from the Basij militia.

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