Recount in Iran

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http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/06/16/iran.elections.protests/index.html


TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iranian authorities Tuesday agreed to recount disputed presidential votes as the country faced intensifying unrest in the wake of a claimed victory by incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that opponents say was the result of a rigged ballot.


A youth shows a hand apparently daubed with blood during demonstrations in Tehran on Monday.
1 of 4more photos »

Ahmadinejad's main opponent, conservative reformist Mir Hossein Moussavi, Tuesday rejected the vote recount, calling instead for a fresh election, an official close to the opposition leader's camp told CNN.

Moussavi also asked supporters not to attend a planned protest rally Tuesday to avoid clashes with a rival rally by Ahmadinejad's supporters, the official said.

Iran's Guardian Council -- which is made up of top clerics and judges -- said Tuesday it will recount votes that the opposition questioned in Friday's race.

A spokesman for the council told the official Islamic Republic News Agency that council members met with the three opposition candidates -- Moussavi, Mehdi Karrubi and Mohsen Rezaie -- and asked them to specify the areas where they wanted a recount.

But Moussavi, whose supporters have alleged ballot fraud, wants Iran to hold fresh elections, the official close to his camp said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a recount would provide another opportunity for the government to manipulate the results.

He said the council ordered the printing of 53 million ballots for the elections, but only 39 million were used. Fourteen million ballots were missing.

The Guardian Council's surprise announcement follows Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's apparent u-turn from an earlier endorsement of an Ahmadinejad victory.

Ahmadinejad won Friday's race, surprising many experts who had expected Moussavi to put up a much stronger fight.

Moussavi, a former prime minister looked on as a reformist, enjoys tremendous support among the youth, who make up almost 60 percent of Iran's population of 70 million.

He tapped into their dissatisfaction with the faltering economy under Ahmadinejad and with an unemployment rate that tops 30 percent by some accounts. Watch how cyberspace is used by opposition »

But Kaveh Afrasiabi, a political scientist who supports Ahmadinejad, said the incumbent's widespread support in rural areas and small towns was the reason for his win with more than 62 percent of the vote.

Moussavi contested the results. His supporters have taken to the streets every day, often clashing with police and Ahmadinejad's backers.

Seven people were killed on Monday night in the capital, Tehran, after they allegedly attacked a military post near Azadi -- or Freedom -- Square, government-funded Press TV said.

The site was the same one where Moussavi had earlier in the day appealed to his supporters -- a crowd of at least 10,000. Watch crowds call for change »

Moussavi's presence was his first public appearance since the election. There, he called on authorities to stop attacks on his supporters and urged his followers to continue demonstrating peacefully.

"You are not breaking glass," he said. "You are breaking tyranny." Watch Christiane Amanpour report from rally »

Though the rally was largely peaceful, one person was reportedly fatally shot when it ended.

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"I could hear gunshots coming from the right-hand of the square," said Rana, a 25-year-old whom CNN is not identifying for safety reasons. "The people were terrified, because the gunshots would not stop."

CNN has not been able to independently verify the reports of casualties.

The official with the Moussavi camp confirmed the death of eight supporters, saying they were killed in clashes with Ahmadinejad supporters following the rally.

Also Tuesday, Mohammad Ali Abtahi -- a former vice president who backed presidential candidate Karrubi -- was arrested, his Web site said.

"We are waiting for his freedom and will update the site," a short post said.

By early afternoon Tuesday, the Moussavi and Ahmadinejad camps were juggling times for their respective rallies to minimize confrontations. Each had picked Vali Asr Square in central Tehran for their gatherings, with Moussavi asking supporters to not fall into the "trap" of street fights.

Since election day, several violent incidents have been blamed on Ahmadinejad backers.

On Sunday, men on motorcycles combed streets and alleys for protesters -- chasing and beating them with clubs, metal batons and baseball bats.

Later that night, a family that lives in a high-rise apartment near Moussavi's election headquarters in Tehran reported that militiamen had attacked their building.

Photos show damage to the building and nearby vehicles. A relative of one of the residents, who did not want to be named, told CNN that the attack happened after people inside the building had shouted "dictator!" and "Allahu Akbar," or "God is Great," from the windows. View images of unrest in Tehran's streets »

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad left for Russia on Tuesday to meet with President Dmitry Medvedev.

There, he was welcomed as the "newly re-elected president of Iran," with Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov telling reporters, "the issue of elections in Iran is an internal affair of the Iranian people."

Reaction from other world leaders to the disputed election has been, for the most part, guarded.

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters Monday that he was "deeply troubled" by the violent protests, but said it was up to Iranians to choose their leaders.
 

Centermass

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From the video feeds coming in, it would appear there's quite a bit of the population not too happy with an unfair outcome. Funny how ahmendickajob is now in russia pole smoking either putin or someone else for help.
 
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