Iran looks to supreme leader’s election response at Friday prayers

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has spoken out for the first time at Friday’s prayers, following days of opposition protests against alleged manipulation in last week’s presidential election.

Khamenei has led weekly prayers, a move seen aimed at quelling the unrest triggered after defiant supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi remained steadfast in opposing the poll result.

It was Khamenei’s first public appearance since the controversial election was held on June 12.

Iran’s supreme leader, who is said to back the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has a final say on all political decisions in the Islamic republic. He has said he would consider a partial recount after Ahmadinejad’s defeated challengers lodged formal complaints of vote-rigging.

No protest rallies were planned for Friday, but another mass protest was announced for Saturday.

Keeping up the pressure on the Islamic regime over the disputed vote, tens of thousands of supporters of Mousavi carried out a demonstration in Tehran on Thursday, the sixth straight day of protests that have rocked the capital.

Pro-reform leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, center, speaks to his supporters during a rally in TehranBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Mousavi defied militia threats to join the crowds

Mousavi joined the crowds, most of whom were dressed in black as a mark of mourning for demonstrators killed in clashes during the protests, which have been banned by the authorities, witnesses said.

According to the opposition People’s Mujahidin Organization of Iran, a group which was recently removed from a European Union terrorism blacklist, 43 people have been killed in the protests, 30 of them in Tehran. State radio has reported seven deaths since the protests started.

Protesters carried pictures of Mousavi and placards bearing slogans such as “We have not had people killed to compromise and accept a doctored ballot box,” one witness said.

Mousavi appeared despite warnings from the hard-line Basij militia – which has been at the forefront of action against protests – for defeated candidates to dissociate themselves from “rioters.”

Council invites candidates for election review

Meanwhile Iran’s Guardian Council, which is in charge of approving the election process, invited Mousavi and two other presidential candidates, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezai, to participate in a review of the election results on Saturday.

The candidates claimed 646 irregularities in the June 12 polls, where Ahmadinejad won a landslide 63-per cent victory, according to official results.


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