Poll real and free: Ahmadinejad

Post-election violence rocks Iran; police pick up 15 Mousavi supporters

Poll real and free: Ahmadinejad

 
At least 15 reformists who backed former premier Mir Hossein Mousavi and former Assembly speaker Mehdi Karroubi in the presidential contest were picked up from their homes. Among those held was Muhammad Reza Khatami, brother of former reformist President Muhammad Khatami and head of the main reformist faction. Judiciary spokesmen declared that those detained were not arrested but were “warned not to increase tension” and freed.

On Saturday night, policemen on motorcycles and in riot gear clashed with stone throwing anti-Ahmadinejad demonstrators who burnt rubbish bins and tyres and set police vehicles, private cars and buses on fire. The violence subsided early on Sunday morning when only small groups of Mousavi supporters were seen in the streets of the capital where they were again challenged by riot police. 

Universities were closed and many people remained at home for the fear of attacks by the police. The protests were the most vehement since student demonstrations in the late nineties.

‘Vote-rigging’

The newspaper published by Mousavi, who denounced the result as a fraud, was banned while his websites and text messaging on mobile phones were blocked.

A call for a re-run of the election by former president Khatami, who won two landslide victories in 1997 and 2001, was rebuffed when the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei endorsed the result.

During a televised press conference, Ahmadinejad, who won 61 per cent of the vote as compared with 32 per cent for Mousavi, said his triumph in the poll was “real and free” and he argued that those who expected the opposition result had deluded themselves.

He announced that Iran’s nuclear programme “belongs in the past,” meaning that there can no longer be discussion on the issue. He also said any coun-try who attacks Iran would deeply regret such action.

Once the press conference ended Ahmadinejad shifted to an organised mass rally of tens of thousands of  supporters at a square in central Tehran.  This staged show of popular support was meant to demonstrate his popularity with ordinary Iranians who, he claims to represent. Public meetings by those decrying his election were banned.

The outcome of the election disappointed western leaders who had hoped that Mousavi would win and institute change in Iran’s domestic and foreign policies.

These leaders have been calling for a halt to Iran’s nuclear programme and an end to Ahmadinejad’s verbal attacks on Israel but their calls are certain to fall on deaf ears.

Ahmadinejad seeks to move on in any dialogue with the west.

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