My win was real and free ..angry losers are not important to me


Ahmadinejad shrugs off riots over ‘rigged’ Iran election

Defiant Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday compared the rioters protesting against his election victory to bad losers after a football match.

The hardliner dismissed widespread fears that the poll was rigged.

And as violent clashes continued in Tehran, he blamed the row over his re-election on “Western oppressors” who wanted his more moderate main rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, to win.

Asked about the riots on the streets of his capital, Ahmadinejad said: “It is not important. Some people are sentimental and become excited.

Charade

“I compared it to a soccer match. Their team has not won in the match.

“The election was real and free. I don’t think we’ll have any serious challenges.”

Despite a record-breaking 85 per cent turnout, the results of Friday’s election were announced just an hour after the polls closed.

Ahmadinejad was given nearly 63 per cent of the vote compared with 34 for Mousavi.

No independent observers were allowed at polling stations.

And Mousavi, a former prime minister who had been widely tipped to win, quickly called the election a “dangerous charade”.

He lodged an official appeal yesterday to the council of Muslim clerics who hold the real power in Iran. But supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had already called Ahmadinejad’s victory “a divine assessment” and told Iranians to unite behind him.

Thousands of Mousavi supporters fought police on Saturday in the worst riots Iran has seen in recent years. Reports claimed one protester had been shot dead.

Violent demonstrations continued on a smaller scale yesterday despite a major government effort to stamp them out.

Some reports said up to 100 leading reformers had been arrested. A spokesman for the Iranian justice system said the dissidents had only been “warned not to increase tension” before being freed.

The government blocked Facebook and Twitter, as well as text messaging services and opposition websites, in a bid to stop demonstrators organising new protests.

Broadcasts from the BBC and the Voice of America were blacked out and the Tehran office of Arabic TV channel al-Arabiya was closed down for a week.

Despite the crackdown, hundreds of Mousavi supporters were still on the streets last night. There were more angry skirmishes with riot police, who beat some demonstrators with batons.

Mousavi urged his supporters to carry on their protests “in a peaceful and legal way”.

Young and urban voters in Iran largely want reform and better relations with theWest.

But Ahmadinejad is a hero to many in the countryside, where he has used his nation’s oil wealth to give handouts to the poor despite claims that he has mismanaged the economy.

As yesterday’s riots continued, tens of thousands of Ahmadinejad supporters gathered inTehran to celebrate his re-election.

There was little cheer elsewhere in the world, where governments had hoped that defeat for Ahmadinejad would help them halt Iran’s drive to build a nuclear bomb.

Doubt

Mousavi had promised to take up Barack Obama’s offer of talks to end the nuclear crisis.

Obama’s vice-president, Joe Biden, said yesterday that there was “an awful lot of doubt” over Ahmadinejad’s re-election.

But Ahmadinejad, who has made acareer out of blaming the West for Iran’s problems, brushed all criticism of the poll aside.

He described his victory as a triumph over Iran’s enemies and said: “The era of a few countries making decisions for the rest of the world has come to an end.”

Ahmadinejad shrugged off questions about Iran’s nuclear programme, claiming that the issue “belongs to the past”.

DailyRecord.co.uk

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