Iran's top election body today ruled out cancelling the disputed presidential vote as the world voiced increasing alarm at the violent crackdown on opposition demonstrators. "In the recent presidential election we witnessed no major fraud or breach," the Guardians Council spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodai was quoted as saying by English-language state television Press TV. "Therefore, there is no possibility of an annulment taking place."
The opposition has been staging almost daily rallies to protest at alleged fraud and widespread irregularities in the June 12 election which returned hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power for another four years. World leaders are calling for an immediate halt to state violence against the protesters, but the Iranian authorities have fired back, accusing Western governments particularly Britain and the US of meddling.
The state media said that at least 17 people have been killed and many more wounded in the unrest that has convulsed the nation for 11 days, shaking the very pillars of the Islamic republic. The streets of Tehran remained tense on Tuesday the day after hundreds of riot police armed with steel clubs and firing tear gas, many riding on motorbikes, broke up an opposition rally of about 1,000 people. Demonstrators had gathered in a central square in defiance of the Revolutionary Guards, the elite force set up in the wake of the 1979 revolution, which warned of a "decisive and revolutionary" riposte to protests.
Hundreds of protesters and prominent reformists and journalists have been rounded up by the authorities even figures close to top regime officials including former president and powerful cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The UN chief Ban Ki-moon voiced growing concern about the violence and urged "an immediate stop to the arrests, threats and use of force." He appealed to the government and the opposition "to resolve peacefully their differences through dialogue and legal means."