Iranian watchdog upholds disputed election results


Wed, Jul 01, 2009 - Page 6

Iran upheld President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election victory despite massive opposition protests over what many branded a rigged poll that triggered the worst crisis since the 1979 revolution.

The country’s powerful electoral watchdog confirmed on Monday the initial result of the disputed June 12 vote that gave Ahmadinejad a landslide victory over his nearest rival Mir Hossein Mousavi, after conducting a recount of 10 percent of the ballot boxes.

The streets of Tehran — the scene of widespread unrest in the aftermath of the poll, were quiet on yesterday, with security forces withdrawing from their positions after being deployed on Monday to prevent any outbreak of new violence.

The 12-member Guardians Council said it confirmed the results after a “thorough and comprehensive investigation” into the election, which had been denounced by Mousavi as a “shameful fraud.”

“The majority of the objections were not deemed infringements or fraud and were only minor irregularities that occur in any election,” Guardians Council chief Ayatollah Ahmad Janati said. “Thus we confirm the result of the 10th presidential election.”

But the US warned that the decision may not placate the opposition, and Italy warned of possible further sanctions against Iran.

Mousavi boycotted the partial recount after lodging complaints of irregularities, along with two other defeated candidates, former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi and ex-Revolutionary Guards chief Mohsen Rezai.

Mousavi and Karroubi came under fire from a top hardline cleric yesterday for opposing what he said was a “clean” election.

“Those who asked for the annulment of 10th presidential election are anti-revolutionary and against the regime,” Ahmad Khatami told the official news agency IRNA.

“If anyone says there was fraud in the election, he has lied and committed a sin,” said the cleric, who on Friday called for the execution of rioters involved in the post-election unrest.

Mousavi had sought a rerun of the election and staged massive public demonstrations in a dispute that has shaken the foundations of the Islamic regime, with unprecedented criticism of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

At least 17 people have been killed and many more wounded in the clashes, according to state media, while many hundreds have been arrested by the authorities.

Results declared a day after the June 12 poll said that Ahmadinejad won 63 percent of the vote against 34 percent for Mousavi, a gap of 11 million votes.

“The validity of the 10th presidential election was confirmed,” a front-page headline in the hardline Kayan newspaper read.

Ahmadinejad’s victory and the ensuing crackdown on opposition protests triggered a global outcry and saw Iran accuse Britain of stoking the unrest.

Iran is holding four locally recruited British embassy staff after releasing five others who were detained for their alleged role in the post-election riots.