12/20/2006, 00.00
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Delays in vote count raising fears of vote rigging in Tehran

Interior ministry has not yet released any results. Reformist candidates fear vote rigging after Ahmadinejad’s supporters appear to lose.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – Concerns are growing in Tehran over the integrity of the Assembly of Experts and city council elections. Official results from the vote which took place six days ago have not yet been released.

Rooz reports that the interior ministry is allowing only certain reporters to visit tallying centers, and, for the first time in the Islamic Republic’s history, the task of securing election sites has been delegated to Basiji militiamen, who are loyal to President Ahmadinejad, instead of regular police forces.

Two of the most radical conservative figures, former Basij commander Bagher Zolghadr and Samareh Hashemi, Ahmadinejad’s advisor in political affairs, have been charged with the task of monitoring the election process.

On Saturday, newspapers associated with moderates published estimates favourable to many reformist candidates. Most of these newspapers, however, chose headlines that dealt with the election’s integrity. E’temad Melli daily picked the headline “Confusion in the Counting Process.”

Although news of reformist victories spread throughout the country early on Saturday, and the results of both the Assembly of Experts and city council elections were announced in many cities, no official news came out of Tehran, causing apprehension among the reformers and supporters of outgoing mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.

The lack of any official results from Tehran led reformist candidates to gather in front of the interior ministry offices in Tehran.

Elsewhere ministry officials expelled a number of reporters from tallying stations.

Rumours are circulating about missing ballots in eastern and southern Tehran.

Because of the lack of official results, reformers are speculating that they might be rigged. By contrast, it seems that reform-oriented candidates performed well in many other cities such as Gorgan, Bandar Abbas, Shiraz, Khorram Abad, Sari, Hamedan, and Zanjan. But according to one of them, “we surely don’t want to lose Tehran city council”.


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