June 13, 2009


Ahmadinejad wins surprise Iran landslide victory (Ian Black, 6/13/09, guardian.co.uk)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has won a crushing victory in Iran's landmark presidential election, according to the country's authorities, but his moderate challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi has warned of "tyranny" and protested that the result was rigged after a record turnout of 84%.

Mousavi appealed directly to the regime's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as baton-wielding riot police dispersed angry supporters outside his Tehran headquarters today.

"I personally strongly protest the many obvious violations and I'm warning I will not surrender to this dangerous charade," said Mousavi. "The result of such performance by some officials will jeopardise the pillars of the Islamic Republic and will establish tyranny."

Both Sides Claim Victory in Presidential Election in Iran (ROBERT F. WORTH and NAZILA FATHI, 6/13/09, NY Times)
The election commission is part of the Interior Ministry, which Mr. Ahmadinejad controls. Some lawmakers were already congratulating Mr. Ahmadinejad, and some of his supporters were celebrating in the streets, the news agency said.

Some analysts warned that Mr. Moussavi’s supporters might take to the streets to protest on Saturday, despite a firm warning against any demonstrations by the deputy commander of the Iranian national police, Ahmadreza Radan. Early on Saturday morning the Tehran police began a “maneuver” to maintain security, the news agency said.

The emotional campaign was widely seen as a referendum on Mr. Ahmadinejad’s divisive policies. It pitted Mr. Moussavi, a former prime minister who has pledged to move Iran away from confrontation with the West, combat economic stagnation and expand women’s rights, against Mr. Ahmadinejad’s economic populism, social conservatism, and hard-line foreign policy.

Many women, young people, intellectuals and members of the moderate clerical establishment backed Mr. Moussavi. Mr. Ahmadinejad drew passionate support from poor rural Iranians as well as conservatives.

At his news conference, Mr. Moussavi cited irregularities that included a shortage of ballots. He accused the government of shutting down Web sites, newspapers and text messaging services throughout the country, crippling the opposition’s ability to communicate during the voting.

Fraud has been a prominent concern for Mr. Moussavi’s campaign, with many of his allies warning that Mr. Ahmadinejad could use the levers of state — the military, the Revolutionary Guard, and the Basij militia — to cajole or intimidate voters, or even engage in outright fraud. In 2005, Mr. Karroubi, who is also a candidate in this election, accused the Basij of rigging the vote in Mr. Ahmadinejad’s favor.

At his news conference, Mr. Moussavi called on the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to help the country reach a “favorable conclusion.”

Ayatollah Khamenei, who has final authority over affairs of state, appears to be the only figure who could mediate between the two camps in the event of an open confrontation over the legitimacy of the vote. But it is not clear how much he knows about the crisis, or what role he might play.

Mr. Khamenei met on Friday with Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a cleric, former president and backer of Mr. Moussavi’s who had warned the supreme leader in an unusual open letter on Tuesday about the possibility of election fraud, according to a political analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the gravity of the situation.

While casting his ballot earlier in the day Friday, Ayatollah Khamenei had said that people were using texting to spread rumors, but it is unclear if that is why the services were shut down.

Amid the confusion overnight, a reformist Web site called Fararu said Mr. Moussavi was talking with the two other candidates, Mr. Karroubi and Mr. Rezai, to discuss the situation. Mr. Karroubi is a reformist cleric and Mr. Rezai is a conservative and the former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

Turnout like that generally accompanies a change of power, not a re-election. But vhere are the usual election observers?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 13, 2009 7:35 AM
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