With over 80 percent of votes counted, incumbent president reported as holding decisive majority; challenger Mousavi claims voting fraud:
Current [Iran] President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received a decisive majority in his country’s presidential election after 81% of the votes were counted on Saturday. The Interior Ministry, in charge of the voting, confirmed the president’s majority as state news agencies reported that Ahmadinejad had received 64.77% of the vote.
Pro-reform rival, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, countered that he was the clear victor and accused authorities of fraud. A large turnout at the polls had boosted victory hopes for Mousavi supporters.
Early Saturday, police dispersed crowds of Mousavi supporters who had gathered in front of the election commission building. Meanwhile, despite a prohibition on public gatherings prior to a formal victory announcement, Ahmadinejad supporters had already begun celebrations.At a press conference on Friday night, even before the close of polls on Friday, Mousavi declared himself “definitely the winner” based on “all indications from all over Iran.” The statement was contradicted at that time by preliminary data of the state election commission.
Mousavi accused the Islamic ruling establishment of “manipulating the people’s vote” to keep Ahmadinejad in power and suggested the reformist camp would stand up to challenge the results. “It is our duty to defend people’s votes. There is no turning back,” Mousavi said, alleging widespread irregularities.
Neither the report in the IRNA news agency nor the competing announcement by Mousavi at a news conference gave details on what their claims were based on.
However, the ILNA news agency, generally associated with the reformist camp, quoted a Mousavi associate complaining that not enough ballots had been distributed in many towns supportive of the reformist campaign and that certain key voting centres had been told to close down, despite an extension in voting.
The massive voter turnout at the Islamic Republic’s 45,000 ballots had Tehran prolong the vote’s deadline three times, in order to accommodate the public. The voting ended four hours after it was originally supposed to, with the Iranian Foreign Ministry saying in expected final voter turnout to be 70% and higher.
“We are waiting for the counting of votes to officially end and explanations of these irregularities be given,” Mousavi said.
The month-long race had been considered too close to call and has been marked by bitterness between the top candidates that is uncharacteristic for Iranian campaigns.
It’s difficult to tell at this stage whether Mousavi’s accusations have any substance. More will be brought to light in the next few days – but we don’t think it looks good. One woman voter commented that Ahmadinejad had ‘gone easy’ on the hardline street patrols, which admonish women publicly in the street for ‘unislamic’ dress; often bundling them away in cars to goodness knows where, for ‘re-education’. But she added that these would most assuredly return after the election if he won.
If this opinion was shared in even part of the rest of the female electorate (and it most certainly is – particularly with the young), then that alone would account for an enormous voting bloc against him, without factoring in the rest of the population – where he is already held in low regard in any case, due to his handling of the economy.
Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust-denying thug – a bully who is actively destabilising the Middle East (both by himself and through Iran’s proxies Hamas and Hizballah); and taking Iran to the nuclear brink.
Whilst there’s no conclusive link, we think it’s certainly safe to say that nuclear sabre-rattling, Holocaust-denial and electoral transparency don’t normally go hand-in-hand.
It will be a great day when the world is finally rid of him.
[Mainl story: Ynet Israel, with Reuters & AP]
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