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Iran in Turmoil After Disputed Presidential Election; Anti-Ahmadinejad Street Protests Continue
Monday, June 15, 2009 :Iran remains in a state of turmoil after Friday's much-anticipated elections ended in a result strongly disputed by opposition candidates and many thousands of their supporters. Today, Iranian officials refused to allow the leading opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and his supporters to hold a major rally protesting the re-election of President Ahmadinejad. Demonstrators began calling for the election to be canceled after the Interior Ministry announced that President Ahmadinejad had won over 62 percent of the vote. The official results gave Mousavi less than 34 percent of the vote. Heavily armed riot police have been cracking down on street protests that continued through the weekend. Early Monday morning, security forces raided a dormitory at Tehran University, injuring fifteen. Opposition websites report that over a hundred prominent opposition members were detained and then released over the weekend. We speak to Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council and David Makovsky, co-author with Dennis Ross of a new book called Myths, Illusions, and Peace.
Demonstrators began calling for the election to be canceled after the Interior Ministry announced that President Ahmadinejad had won over 62 percent of the vote. The official results gave Mousavi less than 34 percent of the vote. The massive turnout his campaign generated was expected to give him a larger share of the vote. Some 40 million people voted in Friday"s election–an estimated turnout of nearly 85%.
Conservative candidate Mohsen Rezaie, the former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard came a distant third, and reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi came in fourth.
The opposition candidates and their supporters are alleging fraud. Both Mousavi and Rezaie have registered formal complaints about the election with the Guardian Council and the Council will reportedly rule on the elections within 10 days. A group of moderate clerics have also said the elections were rigged and some reports indicate the President of the Committee of Election Monitoring also requested the Guardian Council to annul the election.
The Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei however quickly endorsed the results. President Ahmadinejad defended his re-election to a crowd of tens of thousands of his cheering supporters Sunday and said the elections were “clean and healthy.” In a press conference earlier in the day, Ahmadinejad responded to a question about the safety of opposition candidates from CNN"s Christiane Amanpour by comparing the police crackdown on protesters to dealing with excited fans coming out of a football game.
Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and the author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States.
David Makovsky, co-author of a new book on US policy in the Middle East, along with Dennis Ross, who is the Obama administration’s special adviser on Iran. The book is called Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East.