Iran security foils vote demo

2011-06-12 21:27

Tehran - Security forces were deployed heavily in Tehran to avert any major opposition protest on Sunday, the second anniversary of the disputed re-election of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, witnesses said.

Security forces were deployed on part of Tehran's longest avenue, Vali Asr street, which bisects the capital from north to south, and in nearby areas, they said.

However, small groups of people were seen on the avenue as well as in Vanak Square, in apparent response to calls for a demonstration by the opposition.

Reformist opposition supporters called on their websites and Facebook for a silent march on the pavements of the street to mark the 2009 presidential election, which saw Ahmadinejad win a second term by a landslide.

The stiff security presence prevented people from forming large groups, witnesses said, as police forces blocked pedestrian access to arteries leading to the avenue.

Also, anti-riot police carrying paint-ball guns and plain-clothes agents were seen patrolling the avenue on motorbikes in a show of force, witnesses added.

Ahmadinejad, who is now challenged by the ruling conservatives in his own camp, defeated opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi in the 2009 poll, which they continue to reject as fraudulent.

Their opposition to Ahmadinejad sparked a wave of unrest in the Islamic republic, plunging the regime into one of its worst political crises.

The protests left scores dead while thousands, including many close to the opposition as well as journalists, were arrested, with some handed long prison sentences.

Mousavi, a former prime minister, and Karroubi, a former reformist parliament speaker, have been under house arrest for the past four months.

Their access to the outside world was cut off after they called for a demonstration in February, gathering thousands of people.

Read more on:    mahmoud ahmadinejad  |  hossein mousavi  |  iran  |  iran elections
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