Iran says partial recount shows election valid
EDITOR’S NOTE: Iranian authorities have barred journalists for international news organizations from reporting on the streets and ordered them to stay in their offices. This report is based on the accounts of witnesses reached in Iran and official statements carried on Iranian media.
Iran’s election oversight body on Monday declared the hotly disputed presidential vote to be valid after a partial recount, rejecting opposition allegations of fraud that have set off an extraordinary wave of protests.
State television reported that Guardian Council Secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati presented the conclusion in a letter to Interior Minister Sadegh Mahsouli, following a recount of a randomly selected 10 percent of the ballots cast June 12. Press TV said “few or no errors” were found.
Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi claims he, not incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was the rightful winner and has called for a new election.
Mousavi supporters repeatedly took to the streets in protest after the election, outraged by official results that gave Ahmadinejad the victory by a roughly 2-1 margin. Police and the feared Basij militia took increasingly harsh measures against the demonstrators, prompting widespread international criticism.
The recount conducted Monday had appeared to be an attempt to cultivate the image that Iran was seriously addressing fraud claims, while giving no ground in the clampdown on opposition. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Council already had pronounced the results free of major fraud and insisted that Ahmadinejad won by a landslide. And even if errors were found in nearly every one of the votes in the recount Ahmadinejad still would have tallied more votes according to the government than Mousavi.
Monday’s declaration of the election’s validity sets the stage for continued tensions, with the opposition seething with frustration while the government portrays itself as a victim of foreign pressure and even intrigue.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday questioned the recount’s utility.
“They have a huge credibility gap with their own people as to the election process. And I don’t think that’s going to disappear by any finding of a limited review of a relatively small number of ballots,” she told reporters in Washington. Asked if the United States would recognize Ahmadinejad as Iran’s legitimate president, she said “We’re going to take this a day at a time.”