06/26/2009, 00.00
IRAN
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Ahmadinejad’s election, Iran’s “cleanest”, Guardian Council says

According to official watchdog irregularities were minor. Opposition is crushed by crackdown: dozens of politicians, journalists and activists are arrested. A wound opens in Iran’s Islamic camp, despite claims the West is to blame.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Ahmadinejad’s election on 12 June was the “cleanest” in the history of the Islamic Republic, according to the Guardian Council, the government election watchdog, and this despite accusations of fraud and mass protest unseen in the 30 years since the founding of the Islamic Republic.

Guardian Council spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodai said that “the reviews showed that the election was the cleanest since the revolution.”

However, Ahmadinejad’s main rival, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and another defeated candidate, Mehdi Kharroubi, are still calling for the election to be overturned. They had presented more than 600 examples of election violations.

“No major irregularities were found besides some minor ones that are usual in every election,” Kadkhodai said. “This one was the cleanest election we have had,” he insisted.

With this statement the crisis is apparently over. It had begun the day after the presidential election when Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei had declared Ahmadinejad the winner with 63 per cent of the vote, and this before the official tally was actually made public.

The pro-reform opposition and the president’s enemies had bet on a high turnout to prevent a second Ahmadinejad administration. They blame him for Iran’s poverty and for causing tensions with the international community.

For more than a week hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets shouting “Where is my vote?” implying that fraud had taken place, and demanding more freedom and modernity.

This was followed by a very violent crackdown. Officially 17 people were killed and hundreds were injured. But many believe that the real number of dead and injured is much higher.

In the meantime foreign media have been muzzled and many Iranian journalists have been arrested. At present opposition politicians, activists and academics are feeling the brunt of a violent repression campaign meant to crush the regime’s adversaries.

Mousavi, who has come to symbolise the opposition, on his website said that he is being pressured to withdraw his demadn for new elections.

He is also saying that he is unable to go out to meet the people because, even though he is urging them to demonstrate, the authorities have curtailed his movements. This seems to suggest that he is under house arrest.

He says however that he is still confident that nothing will prevent the people from gaining its rights.

Given the deployment of security forces and the ongoing repression, it will now be difficult to say what the opposition will be able to do, experts say.

What is certain though is that the demonstrations of the past few days have inflicted an open wound on Iran’s Islamic camp and this despite attempts by Ahmadinejad and Khamenei to blame Great Britain and the United States for the protests.

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