06/20/2009, 00.00
IRAN
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Opposition challenges Khamenei: on with the demonstrations

Mehdi Kharroubi and the wife of Moussavi call for demonstrations, against the warnings launched yesterday by the Grand Ayatollah. The Police announce a harsh crack down on “illegal gatherings”. An increasingly wide divide between protesters and establishment. Moussavi will not be present at the gathering of the Guardian Council for the partial verification of the election results.

Teheran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The opposition has confirmed a mass protest for this afternoon, despite yesterdays warning by the Supreme Leader Alì Khamenei not to demonstrate.  The order for the gathering was given by one of the defeated candidates in the presidential election that has been roiled by accusations of vote rigging, Mehdi Kharroubi. The wife of Mir Hossein Moussavi, the other great loser, has also invited people to take part in the gathering, slated for 4pm this afternoon.  But the police have stated that they will crack down on all “illegal gatherings”.

Yesterday, in a sermon during Friday Prayers, Khamenei warned politicians against supporting the protests which could provoke violence that they will then be to blame for.  He had warned that the “illegal” gatherings had to be dissolved and that all criticism of the elections was to follow the legal route.  The defeated candidates have presented over 600 cases of irregularities in the June 12th vote.

The Grand Ayatollah has already asked the Guardian Council to verify if there were irregularities in some areas, but the hundreds of thousands of people who have taken to the streets this past week are demanding that the vote is annulled an that fresh elections are held.  They maintain that the results were rigged, resulting in a complete “state coup”, to give victory to Ahmadinejad. In his speech yesterday, Khamenei instead defended the result and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory. The opposition sees little hope in gaining any results from the “legal” verification proposed by Khamenei. Today the defeated candidates were to have met with the Guardian Council, ready to verify 10% of the votes, but neither Moussavi nor Mehdi Kharroubi were present. Both were also absent from Friday prayers yesterday.

Analysts believe that an ever greater divide is opening up between the opposition and establishment.  Yesterday evening in Tehran many young people were still on the streets shouting “Allah akhbar! God is Great”.  It was the symbolic slogan of protesters ahead of the fall of the Shah, and today it has become a symbol of their criticism of Khamenei’s leadership.

 

 

 

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