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Ahmadinejad defiant on ‘free’ Iran poll

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on June 14, 2009

BBC NEWS

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has defended his “completely free” re-election as Iran’s president, amid violent clashes on the streets over claims of election fraud.

ARTMr Ahmadinejad condemned the outside world for “psychological warfare” against Iranians during the election.

Thousands have protested against the result, burning barricades on the streets of Tehran and clashing with police, who responded with tear gas.

Reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi urged his supporters to avoid violence.

‘Down with the dictator’

Speaking on national television, Mr Ahmadinejad praised the Iranian people for choosing to “look toward the future” rather than returning to the past.

President Ahmadinejad addresses the nation

“This is a great victory at a time and condition when the whole material, political and propaganda facilities outside of Iran and sometimes… inside Iran, were total mobilised against our people,” he said.

He blamed “foreign media” for instigating a “full-fledged fight against our people”.

“Nearly 40 million people took part in a totally free election,” he said.

However, the official result, which gave Mr Ahmadinejad a resounding victory – 63% of the vote against 34% for Mr Mousavi – brought the worst violence seen in Tehran for a decade, correspondents said.

The BBC’s John Simpson saw secret policemen being attacked and chased away by protesters, which he says is extremely rare.

Some of the protesters in Tehran wore Mr Mousavi’s campaign colour of green and chanted “Down with the dictator”, news agencies report.

Four police motorbikes were set on fire near the interior ministry, where votes had been counted, our correspondent says.

Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli warned that any demonstrations needed official permission, and none had been given.

One opposition newspaper has been closed down and BBC websites also appear to have been blocked by the Iranian authorities. The AP news agency reports that mobile phone services have been blocked in Tehran.

Ayatollah’s call

Mr Mousavi urged calm in his website statement.

“The violations in the election are very serious and you are right to be deeply hurt,” he said.

 

John Simpson
John Simpson
Reporting from Tehran

A crowd of about 3,000 attacked the police, some of whom were on motorbikes, which they set on fire.

The sky was thick with black smoke. Police attacked the crowd with sticks and maybe teargas.

I didn’t expect to see people turning on the secret police. We were filming when we were surrounded by angry secret policemen. The crowd turned on them and chased them off.

I suspect we are not looking at a revolution but there is serious anger.

It all depends on how the government responds – if they use violence, that could inflame the situation.

 

“But I firmly call on you not to subject any individual or groups to hurt.”

Mr Mousavi earlier said the election was a “charade”.

“I personally strongly protest the many obvious violations and I’m warning I will not surrender to this dangerous charade.

“The result of such performance by some officials will jeopardise the pillars of the Islamic Republic and will establish tyranny.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wields ultimate power, urged all Iranians “including yesterday’s competitors” to support the re-elected president.

He described the count as a “real celebration”, praised the high turnout of 85% and called for calm. “Enemies may want to spoil the sweetness of this event… with some kind of ill-intentioned provocations,” the ayatollah said.

Mr Mousavi had been hoping to prevent Mr Ahmadinejad winning more than 50% of the vote, in order to force a run-off election.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Tehran says the result has been greeted with surprise and with deep scepticism by many Iranians.

The figures, if they are to be believed, show Mr Ahmadinejad winning strongly even in the heartland of Mr Mousavi.

Our correspondent says Mr Ahmadinejad will feel emboldened in his global vision that foresees the death of capitalism, while at home, many Iranians will fear a clamp down on society and cultural life.

Surge of interest

There had been a surge of interest in Iran’s presidential election, with unprecedented live television debates between the candidates and rallies attended by thousands.

 

IRANIAN ELECTION
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: 62.6%
Mir Hossein Mousavi: 33.8%
Mohsen Rezai: 1.7%
Mehdi Karroubi 0.9%
Turnout: 85%
Source: Interior ministry

There were long queues at polling stations on Friday, with turnout reaching 85%.

Four candidates contested the election, with Mohsen Razai and Mehdi Karroubi only registering about 1% of the vote each.

Iran is ruled under a system known as Velayat-e Faqih, or “Rule by the Supreme Jurist”, who is currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It was adopted by an overwhelming majority in 1979 following the Islamic revolution which overthrew the autocratic Western-backed Shah.

But the constitution also stipulates that the people are the source of power and the country holds phased presidential and parliamentary elections every four years.

All candidates are vetted by the powerful conservative-controlled Guardian Council, which also has the power to veto legislation it deems inconsistent with revolutionary principles.

To see in pictures: Iran election clashes

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8098776.stm

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