Tensions rise as both sides claim victory in Iran’s presidential election


A pivotal presidential election in Iran ended in confusion and confrontation early Saturday morning, June 13, as both sides claimed victory and plainclothes officers fired tear gas to disperse a cheering crowd outside the campaign headquarters of opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.

With votes still being counted in many cities, incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was leading by a 2-to-1 ratio in the early returns, according to Iranian Interior Ministry officials. But Mousavi’s supporters dismissed those numbers, saying the ministry was effectively under Ahmadinejad’s control.

“I am the winner of these elections,” Mousavi declared late Friday night, after heavy turnout resulted in a two-hour extension of voting across the Islamic republic. “The people have voted for me.”

When Mousavi’s youthful supporters gathered after midnight outside his Tehran headquarters to celebrate his claim to victory, officers quickly dispersed them with tear gas, said Milad Afsarzadeh, a Mousavi campaign official inside the building.

He and other witnesses to the brief melee said it was unclear whether the officers were police or members of the Baseej, a paramilitary force of volunteers organized by the Revolutionary Guards and greatly feared by student demonstrators. The witnesses said it was also unclear whether the plainclothes officers were taking sides in the election or enforcing rules against street demonstrations to try to prevent clashes between impassioned backers of Mousavi and Ahmadinejad. No serious violence was reported.

The election has stirred deep political passions among Iran’s 46 million eligible voters, pitting Ahmadinejad, a populist who promised to help the poor and to make Iran a world power, against three challengers. If none wins a clear majority, the election will go to a runoff between the two top vote-getters.

Though final say over Iran’s foreign and domestic policies rests with its unelected supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Mousavi portrayed himself as the candidate for change, pledging to take a less confrontational tone in relations with the West and to provide more technocratic management of the economy. His campaign produced an outpouring of enthusiasm from youth, intellectuals and an older generation of Iranian leaders, while Ahmadinejad drew his core support from rural and working-class voters, plus elements of the military and conservative Islamic clergy.

Cleveland.com

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: