News24

Ahmadinejad defends vote

2009-06-14 15:24

Tehran - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday defended his hotly disputed re-election as security forces cracked down on opposition protestors in Tehran, where fresh violence erupted.

Police said they have rounded up a total of 170 people over the massive post-election protests and street riots which erupted in the Iranian capital after Ahmadinejad's defeated challengers complained of fraud and vote-rigging.

Analysts have warned that the dramatic events could pose a risk to the future of the Shiite-dominated country, which has been under the control of powerful clerics since the Islamic revolution three decades ago.

But Ahmadinejad dismissed criticism of the election, saying at a press conference the massive turnout was a blow to the "oppressive system ruling the world", a reference to Iran's arch-foe the United States.

He said his margin of victory over his main rival, moderate ex-premier Mir Hossein Mousavi, was so wide it could not be questioned and said the election was like a "football match" and the loser should just "let it go".

But clashes flared again on Sunday, a day after thousands of angry opposition supporters took to the streets over the election result, triggering rioting on a scale not seen in Iran for a decade.

"Death to the dictator!"

In one street, police fired into the air to break up a demonstration, while on another, about 200 Mousavi supporters shouting "Death to the dictator!" lobbed stones at police who fired back with tear gas.

The election results dashed Western hopes of change after four years under the combative Ahmadinejad, who set Iran on a collision course with the international community over its nuclear drive and his anti-Israeli tirades.

World governments have so far reacted cautiously, while voicing concern about the vote-rigging allegations and the election violence.

Official results gave 52-year-old Ahmadinejad 63% of the vote, crushing his closest rival Mousavi who gained just 34%.

But Mousavi, who has not been seen in public since the vote results cried foul over what he branded a "charade", saying it was marred by cheating and election irregularities.


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