Iran election body prepared to recount votes

Iran’s electoral watchdog, the Guardians Council, said on Tuesday it is ready to recount the presidential ballots if it finds irregularities in the vote count.

“If the Guardians Council reaches the conclusion that such offences as buying votes or using fake identity cards have been committed ... it will order a recount,” council spokesperson Abbas Ali Kadkhodai told the official news agency IRNA.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner in Friday’s vote with 63%, compared with 34% for his nearest rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Mousavi, who was seen to have mounted a strong challenge to Ahmadinejad, has complained that the vote was rigged, and along with the two other defeated candidates, Mehbi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezai, lodged protests with the council.

Kadkhodai said the recount will be done in the presence of representatives of the defeated candidates.

“The Guardians Council will decide on the cancellation of a specific ballot box or a [polling] station, only if the offence changes the fate of the votes and the election,” he said.

On Monday, state television said Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had asked the council to probe the allegations of irregularities in the election.

Meanwhile, seven people were killed when a mass protest against Ahmadinejad’s re-election turned violent, state media said on Tuesday, as the tense nation braced for more rival rallies in the biggest outpouring of public anger since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

On Monday, tyres, dustbins and motorbikes were set ablaze by protestors as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the latest in a wave demonstrations that have exposed deep divisions in Iranian society.

The stage was being set for possible further confrontations on Tuesday as both Ahmadinejad’s camp and supporters of Mousavi were planning rival marches on a Tehran square just two hours apart.

Demonstrations have also spread to other major cities across the country.

State radio said at least seven people were killed when “thugs” attacked and vandalised government buildings at the end of Monday’s opposition rally in Tehran, which had been banned by the authorities as an illegal gathering.

“A military post was attacked with the intention of looting its weapons. Unfortunately, seven of our citizens were killed and a number of them injured,” it said.

Medical sources suggested the toll could be as high as eight.

The mounting protests against Ahmadinejad’s re-election in a vote Mousavi has branded a rigged “charade” have triggered the worst unrest in Tehran in a decade and exposed deep divisions after 30 years of Islamic rule.

Iran is facing an international backlash over its action against the opposition protestors and the election itself, which returned the combative Ahmadinejad to another four years in power.

US President Barack Obama, who has called for dialogue with the Islamic republic after three decades of hostility, said he was “deeply troubled” by the violence and would stick to tough diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear drive.

In one incident late on Monday, one man was reportedly shot in the head outside a local base of the Basij Islamic volunteer militia, which was set on fire.

Pictures showed armed men, wearing helmets and in civilian clothes, pointing guns at the crowds from the rooftop of the base.

Monday’s violence flared after Mousavi appeared in public for the first time since the election that has highlighted deep divisions in Iran as it grapples with a struggling economy and a stand-off with the West over its nuclear work.—AFP

.

Client Media Releases

First two MTN CakeCrush Competition winners announced
Fun things to do in Cape Town
Sebata establishes Skills Development Centre
Fempreneurs shine during EWP gala event