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Iran: Musavi Rejects Recount Offer by Guardians Council


By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

Iran's Guardians Council, the country's top legislative body, has announced it is ready to partially recount disputed votes cast in the June 12 presidential election, a day after a massive protest in Tehran against the reelection of hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

A spokesman for the powerful Guardians Council has said that the legislative body is "ready to recount the disputed ballot boxes claimed by some candidates, in the presence of their representatives."


Musavi addresses supporters at the Tehran rally on June 15.

Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodai is quoted by Iran's state news agency as saying that "it is possible that there may be some changes in the tally after the recount."

After the announcement, Reuters quoted a senior ally of reformist candidates Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi Karrubi as saying they wanted new elections held rather than a recount of "a few ballot boxes." Both candidates suffered decisive defeats, according to initial results.

Musavi has described the poll -- which saw incumbent President Mahmud Ahmadinejad win 62 percent of the vote, enough to prevent a second round -- as a "charade" and has called for an annulment of the results. Karrubi has called the results "illegitimate" and said that he doesn't recognize Ahmadinejad as Iran's president.

Both candidates sent a letter of complaint to the Guardians Council. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei met with Musavi on June 14 and told him that he had asked the council to consider his concerns carefully.

"Please investigate Mir Hossein Mousavi's complaints"
Cartoon by Nikahang Kowsar (source: roozonline)

Massive Rally In Tehran

The announcement by the Guardians Council comes a day after Tehran witnessed its biggest popular rally since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Some 1 million people are believed to have rallied in central Tehran on June 15 to protest election results.

According to eyewitnesses and media reports, some 1 million people marched in the capital, Tehran, to protest the results of the vote and to express their support for Musavi.

Musavi, who spoke at the protest, reportedly said that he was ready for a new election.

The rally, however, was marred by the deaths of seven people who were shot dead, allegedly by Basij forces, near the site of the rally.

Witnesses at the scene said the Islamic militiamen opened fire when people in the crowd attacked a post of the Basij militia.

One man explained to RFE/RL's Radio Farda how his brother was seriously injured as they walked near the site of the shootings.

"We were walking together," he said. "My brother is 15 years old. I was on my way from work when [I saw] there was unrest. The Basijis were there. They fired shots and [my brother] was hit in the kidney."

Over the past three days, protesters have called for President Ahmadinejad to be removed from office and have also challenged Iran's supreme leader.

Protests have been also reported in other major cities, including Tabriz, Shiraz, Urumyeh, Karaj, and Ahvaz.

Rooftop Chants

Witnesses have told RFE/RL that many Iranians in Tehran and other cities -- including Mashhad and Isfahan -- have been going on rooftops at night and chanting "Allah Akbar" and slogans in support of Musavi. Last night, chants of "We don't want a midget dictator" were reported in a neighborhood in northern Tehran.

A citizen of Karaj spoke to Radio Farda as chants of "Allah Akbar" could be heard in the background.

"Right now in Karaj, [many] people are on their rooftops," he said. "You can hear them. They are all saying, 'Allah Akbar.' This is going on every night from 10 to 10:30 p.m."

A screen shot from British TV Channel Four shows a Basij militiaman shooting at protesters from a nearby rooftop.
He said some people in Karaj were planning to join a rally planned for June 16 on Tehran's Vali Asr square by Musavi supporters.

However, that unsanctioned rally, set for 5 p.m. local time, appears to have been thwarted by a call by Ahmadinejad's camp for a large rally of their own on the same location two hours before, leading to concerns of potential violence.

A statement on Musavi's website says he is not going to attend the rally and warns his supporters not to get caught up in violence.

A Musavi spokesman later announced that the rally has been canceled.

"Musavi...urged his supporters not to attend today's rally to protect their lives. The moderates' rally has been canceled," Reuters quoted the spokesman as saying.

Iranian state television has broadcast live pictures of thousands of what it said were Ahmadinejad supporters gathering in the square. It also reported that the "main agents" in the unrest had been arrested with explosives and guns. It gave no further details.

Repressive Measures

Musavi supporters are protesting against what they believe is massive vote fraud. One of the issues that has been raised is the speed of the vote count and also results that show Ahmadinejad beating Musavi even in the ethnic-Azeri candidate's hometown.

Their protests are being met with repressive measures by the Iranian establishment, which has blocked the SMS text-messaging system and a number of websites, as well as social-networking sites.

Iran has also banned foreign media journalists from leaving their offices to cover protests on the streets. The Culture Ministry said journalists could continue to work from their offices but that it was canceling press accreditation for all foreign media.

"No journalist has permission to report or film or take pictures in the city," a Culture Ministry official told Reuters.

New arrests are being reported in Tehran and other cities. Among those arrested is former vice president and blogger cleric Mohammad Ali Abtahi. Abtahi had been actively involved in Karrubi's campaign.

Fars news agency quotes Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie as saying that security forces have arrested another 26 "masterminds" suspected to be involved in postelection unrest.

Over the past three days more than 150 people have been arrested, but it is unclear whether all of them are still in jail or have been released.

Amnesty International has warned that those arrested are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

Meanwhile, some Iranians have launched a campaign on Facebook and are calling on the world not to recognize Ahmadinejad as Iran's president.

Ahmadinejad, who was in Russia on June 16 to attend a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, has called the June 12 vote free and fair and said that it reflects the will of the people.

Radio Farda 's Mahin Gorji contributed to this report

Copyright (c) 2009 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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