Iran supreme leader agrees to extend vote probe
[Al Arabiya Latest] Iran ruled out on Tuesday overturning the disputed presidential election as U.S. President Barack Obama said there were significant questions about the poll's legitimacy and condemned the crackdown on post-election protests. But supreme
goon leader Ayatollah Khamenei agreed to a request by the top election watchdog, to extend by five days Wednesday's deadline to examine vote complaints, ISNA news agency said.
As international alarm mounted over the crisis, the most serious challenge to the Islamic regime in its 30-year history, Britain said it was expelling two Iranian diplomats after a similar move by Tehran. At the same time, other European nations hauled in envoys to protest at the election and the repression of protests.
|Clearly feeling the heat and hoping to string this out out until the heat dies down ...|
The top election watchdog, the Guardians Council, insisted the vote would stand. "We witnessed no major fraud or breach," spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodai said on English-language state television Press TV. "Therefore, there is no possibility of an annulment taking place."
However, it was later disclosed that council head Ahmad Jannati asked Khamenei for for a five-day extension "to remove any ambiguity" of irregularities, the ISNA news agency reported. Khamenei responded by saying "I give my agreement to your proposition. Act accordingly."
The council, which has acknowledged there were more votes cast than eligible voters in 50 of 366 constituencies, had been due to make its final ruling on Wednesday.
The opposition claims that the June 12 poll that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power for a second four-year term was rife with fraud. Defeated challengers listed 646 irregularities and are demanding a new election.
Defeated opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi plans to issue a "full report of electoral fraud and irregularities," a statement on his official website said. But the interior ministry warned Mousavi "to respect the law and the people's vote" after his defeat, state-run IRNA news agency said.
The authorities reject opposition charges of vote fraud, although analysis by a British think tank showed "irregularities" in the turnout and "highly implausible" swings in Ahmedinejad's favor.
The defeated candidates have submitted a total of 646 complaints about the election. Earlier this week, a Guardian Council spokesman said one common complaint was that the number of votes surpassed eligible voters in some constituencies.
State media said at least 17 people have been killed and many more wounded in the unrest that has convulsed the nation for 11 days. Hundreds of protesters, prominent reformists and journalists have been rounded up by the authorities -- even figures close to top regime officials including powerful cleric and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Mousavi has urged his supporters to continue demonstrating but to adopt "self-restraint" to avoid more bloodshed.
Defeated reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi called for a ceremony on Thursday to mourn slain protesters.
Posted by: Fred 2009-06-24