Recount claims Ahmadinejad winner

Jun 29th, 2009 | By | Category: Signs of the Times (click on article name)
The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

Recount claims Ahmadinejad winner

Jun. 29, 2009
ap and Jpost.com staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

amadinejab-300x200Iran’s election oversight body on Monday declared the hotly disputed presidential vote to be valid after a partial recount, rejecting opposition allegations of fraud that have set off an extraordinary wave of protests.

State television reported that Guardian Council Secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati presented the conclusion in a letter to Interior Minister Sadegh Mahsouli, following a recount of a randomly selected 10 percent of the ballots cast June 12. Press TV said “few or no errors” were found.

The Iranian leadership took more measures to calm tensions, instructing a senior judge to investigate the death of protester Neda Agha Soltan and stating that the Islamic republic does not want to downgrade relations with Britain.

According to Al-Alam state television, recounting had started in 22 Teheran districts as well as in provinces. North Teheran is a base of support for opposition Mir Hossein Mousavi, who insists he – not Ahmadinejad – won the disputed election.

The recount conducted Monday had appeared to be an attempt to cultivate the image that Iran was seriously addressing fraud claims, while giving no ground in the clampdown on opposition. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Council already had pronounced the results free of major fraud and insisted that Ahmadinejad won by a landslide. And even if errors were found in nearly every one of the votes in the recount Ahmadinejad still would have tallied more votes according to the government than Mousavi.

Monday’s declaration of the election’s validity sets the stage for continued tensions, with the opposition seething with frustration while the government portrays itself as a victim of foreign pressure and even intrigue.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday questioned the recount’s utility.

“They have a huge credibility gap with their own people as to the election process. And I don’t think that’s going to disappear by any finding of a limited review of a relatively small number of ballots,” she told reporters in Washington. Asked if the United States would recognize Ahmadinejad as Iran’s legitimate president, she said “We’re going to take this a day at a time.”

Meanwhile, in the midst of soaring tensions between Teheran and London after Iranian authorities detained local British Embassy employees accused of stirring up post-election unrest, Iran dismissed the idea of downgrading diplomatic relations with Britain.

Iranian officials had said they were considering downgrading ties with the UK, which expelled two Iranian diplomats last week in a retaliatory move after Iran ousted two British envoys.

But in a press conference broadcast on state television Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said that a “reduction of diplomatic ties is not on our agenda for any country, including Britain.”

Only four of the nine UK embassy employees that were arrested are still in custody and were under interrogation, he said.

Qashqavi said Iranian officials have been in written and verbal contact with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who has assured Teheran that Britain would not interfere in Iranian affairs.

In related news, Ahmadinejad asked a senior judge to launch an investigation into the death of Soltan, the young woman who became an icon of Iran’s opposition after video capturing her bleeding to death on a Teheran street was circulated worldwide.

According to Ahmadinejad’s Web site, the president said Soltan was slain by “unknown agents and in a suspicious” way, convincing him that “enemies of the nation” were responsible.

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