x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Iran upholds Ahmadinejad victory

Iran confirm hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president and said a row over his June 12 re-election was over.

Iran confirmed hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president and said a row over his June 12 re-election was over, leaving opponents who cried foul with few options. Iran's top legislative body, the Guardian Council, said a partial recount on Monday had disproved complaints of irregularities by pro-reform opponents, who said the count was inadequate and that only annulling the election would do. Riot police beefed up their presence in the capital Tehran but there were no signs of major unrest late on Monday, in contrast to protests by tens of thousands that erupted when Mr Ahmadinejad was first declared victor of the June 12 vote.

State media say 20 people died in that violence which the government and opposition blamed on one another. Pro-government Basij militia and riot police broke up the protests. "The secretary of the Guardian Council, in a letter to the interior minister, announced the final decision of the Council ... and declares the approval of the accuracy of the results of ... the presidential election," state broadcaster IRIB said.

The poll and its turbulent aftermath have exposed splits in Iran's political establishment and plunged the country into its deepest crisis since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. But options for the opposition look limited now the election result has been officially upheld, after the recount of what the Council said was a random 10 per cent of the vote. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei signalled on June 19 that mass protests would no longer be tolerated. There is little scope for more legal fights, and hundreds of opposition supporters have been detained, leaving protesters leaderless.

After dark, some people are still chanting "Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)" from their rooftops, mimicking tactics used during the 1979 revolution, but the nightly cries are weakening. There has been talk of other forms of civil disobedience, including strike action, but these have yet to materialise. "The Guardian Council statement was issued when it became convinced about the accuracy of the election," a Council spokesman said, adding that no irregularities were found.

"The dossier of the ... election has been closed today." The recount system was not immediately clear, but state media said it had been spread over several provinces. Opposition supporters say the vote was rigged to favour the hardline president over reformist rivals including Mirhossein Mousavi, who came second. Mr Mousavi had rejected the idea of a recount and sent no representatives to watch it.

* Reuters