Iran’s Guardian Council prepared to recount disputed votes

Jun 16th, 2009 | By | Category: Signs of the Times (click on article name)

Iran’s Guardian Council prepared to recount disputed votes

Jun. 15, 2009

The spokesman for Iran’s Guardian Council said it is ready to recount specific ballot boxes in last week’s disputed presidential elections, but rejected a request to cancel election results.

State television quoted Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei as saying that the recount would be limited to voting sites where candidates claim irregularities occurred.

The results showing a landslide victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad touched off Teheran’s worst violence in 10 years. Supporters of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi claim the vote was rigged to re-elect the hardline president.

The 12-member Guardian Council include clerics and experts in Islamic law. It’s role includes certifying election results.

More pro-Mousavi and pro-Ahmadinejad demonstrations were scheduled for Tuesday in Iran.

Demonstrations in Iran

Demonstrations in Iran

Mousavi has made a public plea Tuesday afternoon to his supporters asking them to avoid protesting for fear for their lives, Iranian news services reported.

Up to 24 people were reportedly killed and many more were injured in clashes with pro-government forces Monday night, according to non-Iranian news services worldwide Tuesday.

State TV announced Tuesday midday that the “main agents” behind the unrest have been arrested and searches have turned up weapons and explosives.

Watch footage uploaded to youtube by demonstrators

Meanwhile, Russia welcomed Ahmadinejad on his first trip abroad since his bitterly disputed re-election. Ahmadinejad arrived in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg for talks at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes Russia, China and four Central Asian nations. Iran has observer status in the grouping, widely seen as a counterbalance to US interest in the region.

A senior Russian diplomat hailed Ahmadinejad’s visit as evidence of strong ties between Russia and Iran.

“It’s quite symbolic that the Iranian president arrived in Russia on his first foreign visit since re-election,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said at a briefing. “We see that as a sign that the Russian-Iranian relations will advance further.”

Earlier Tuesday, Iran’s state radio reported that clashes in the Iranian capital the previous night left seven people dead after an “unauthorized gathering” following a mass rally over alleged election fraud.

The seven were killed in shooting that erupted after protesters in western Teheran “tried to attack a military location,” the radio said, providing no details.

It was the first official confirmation of Monday’s fatalities in Teheran’s Azadi Square, where witnesses had seen at least one person shot dead and several others seriously wounded by gunfire from a compound for volunteer militia linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard.

The deaths come after hundreds of thousands of opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad massed in the city center Monday to cheer their pro-reform leader in his first public appearance since elections that he alleges were marred by fraud, Iranian state radio said.

Reports on Monday night said that gunfire from a compound used by pro-government militia in Iran came after a group of demonstrators with fuel canisters attempted to set fire to the compound of a volunteer militia linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard as the crowd dispersed from Freedom Square after dark.

As some attempted to storm the building, people inside could be seen firing directly at the demonstrators at the northern edge of the square, away from the heart of the demonstration.

Initial reports said one person was killed, but early Tuesday morning, state radio put the figure at seven.

The chanting demonstrators had defied an Interior Ministry ban and streamed into central Teheran – an outpouring for reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi that swelled as more poured from buildings and side streets.

The massive protest followed a decision by Iran’s most powerful figure for an investigation into the vote-rigging allegations.

The chanting crowd – many wearing the trademark green color of Mousavi’s campaign – was more than eight kilometers long, and based on previous demonstrations in the square and surrounding streets, its size was estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands.

Security forces watched quietly, with shields and batons at their sides.

Mousavi, in a gray striped shirt and talking through a portable loudspeaker, had paused on the edge of the square – where Ahmadinejad made his first postelection speech – to address the throng.

They roared back: “Long live Mousavi.”

“This is not election. This is selection,” read one English-language placard at the demonstration. Other marchers held signs proclaiming “We want our vote!” and raised their fingers in a V-for-victory salute.

“We want our president, not the one who was forced on us,” said 28-year-old Sara, who gave only her first name because she feared reprisal from authorities.

The demonstration lasted several hours before the crowd began to disperse and the violence erupted.

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