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13 Jun

Ahmadinejad ‘set for Iran victory’?

Ahmadinejad had a seemingly unassailable lead with 80 per cent of the votes counted.

News Middle East, Saturday, June 13, 2009

Article

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, has taken a seemingly unassailable lead in his bid for re-election, Iran’s interior ministry has said.

With 80 per cent of the ballots counted on Saturday, the election commission put Ahmadinejad ahead with 63.8 per cent of the vote against 32.7 per cent for Mir Hossein Mousavi, his main rival.

“Doctor Ahmadinejad, by getting a majority of the votes, has become the definite winner of the 10th presidential election,” the official IRNA news agency reported.

But Mousavi, who had himself declared victory just moments after the polls closed on Friday, described the decision to declare Ahmadinejad as the winner as “treason to the votes of the people”.

“I personally strongly protest the many obvious violations and I’m warning I will not surrender to this dangerous charade,” he said in a statement.

“The result of such performance by some officials will jeopardise the pillars of the Islamic Republic and will establish tyranny.”

Mousavi complained that many people had been prevented from voting, in part due to a shortage of ballot papers, and said that the authorities had blocked text messaging, which his campaign has used to reach young voters.

‘Question marks’

Trita Parsi, the president of National American Iranian Council, told Al Jazeera that the emphatic nature of the victory raised “a lot of question marks”.

“There are so many inconsistencies, they are even reporting that Ahmadinejad won the city of Tabriz, which is Mousavi’s home town, with 57 per cent. That seems extremely unlikely.

“How come the votes were counted so quickly, even though the polls were open six hours extra?” he asked.

Scuffles broke out between police and chanting Mousavi supporters in a Tehran square early on Saturday, witnesses said. Anti-riot police were deployed outside government offices.

Al Jazeera’s Teymoor Nabili, reporting from Tehran, said that the results declared by the interior ministry would still need to be signed off by the state audit body and the audit commission of the supreme leader.

“These two bodies are headed by men who might not be so close to the present administration,” he said.

“Mousavi has the option of going to these two bodies and saying ‘look I want definitive proof from you that these are clean numbers’ … but Mousavi is going to have to make some very tough choices about how much trouble he wants to make over these results.”

Ahmadinejad’s supporters took to the street in the early hours of Saturday, waving Iranian flags and honking car horns, after IRNA had declared the election for the incumbent president.

“Where are the greens? In a mousehole,” some of them said, referring to the campaign colours of Mousavi, whose supporters held mass rallies in recent weeks.

The two other candidates up for election – Mohsen Rezai, a former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and Mehdi Karroubi, an ex-parliament speaker – were set to finish a distant third and fourth.
Source:  Al Jazeera and agencies

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