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Vote recount in Iran after rigging accusations

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050620/wl_nm/iran_election_dc;_ylt=ApXrkxn9Vf3UBbowAp7oQ9YUewgF;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b3JuZGZhBHNlYwM3MjE- Vote recount in Iran after
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 20, 2005

      Vote recount in Iran after rigging accusations

      By Paul Hughes 12 minutes ago

      TEHRAN (Reuters) - Electoral authorities on Monday
      ordered a partial recount of Iran's inconclusive
      presidential election after reformists accused
      military organizations of rigging the vote in favor of
      a hard-line candidate.

      The recount comes four days before an unpredictable
      second round run-off between the top two candidates in
      Friday's poll -- pragmatic former president, Akbar
      Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the
      hard-line mayor of Tehran.

      Friday's run-off, forced after none of the original
      seven candidates won an absolute majority, is likely
      to have a major impact on Iran's relations with the
      world and the future of fragile reforms in the Islamic

      Rafsanjani, 70, bidding to regain the post he held
      from 1989 to 1997, rebranded himself as a liberal for
      the campaign, saying the time was right to open a new
      chapter in Iran-U.S. ties and indicating he would
      increase social and political freedoms.

      His surprise rival Ahmadinejad, 49, who would be
      Iran's first non-cleric president for 24 years, ran a
      far more modest campaign focusing on the need to
      tackle poverty and revive the ideals of the 1979
      Islamic revolution.

      But reformists, some of whom accuse state military
      organizations like the Basij militia of supporting
      Ahmadinejad, say he is part of an ultra-conservative
      totalitarian plan.

      "If he wins (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei
      will really rule everything," said Mohammad Reza
      Khatami, head of Iran's largest reform party. "We will
      not have free elections and opposition voices won't be
      tolerated," he told Reuters.

      Islamic hard-liners, many of them former Revolutionary
      Guards members, won control of many city councils and
      Iran's parliament in 2003 and 2004 elections which
      were marred by low turnout.

      Iran's hard-line Guardian Council, which has the final
      word on election results, said it would recount votes
      from 100 ballot boxes in four cities on Monday to
      allay the rigging fears.

      There have been no popular protests about the vote


      Just two million votes separated first from fifth
      place and pundits were stunned by Ahmadinejad's strong
      showing after opinion polls had shown him trailing
      well down the field.

      Third-placed reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi, who
      asked for the partial recount, said some Ahmadinejad
      votes were paid for.

      Two newspapers which printed his charges in a daringly
      critical letter to Khamenei were closed by the

      Rafsanjani, alluding to "organized interference" in
      the vote, urged Iranians to help him defeat

      "I seek your help and ask you to be present in the
      second round of the election so that we can prevent
      all extremism," he said in a statement published in
      several newspapers.

      Many political analysts, while surprised by
      Ahmadinejad's strong showing in the first round, said
      reformists had provided no concrete evidence of vote
      rigging and had underestimated the mayor's strong
      support among Iran's large mass of pious poor.

      "Ahmadinejad sold himself as a Robin Hood --
      hardworking, honest, a man of the people," said an
      analyst who declined to be named. "He represents the
      resentment of people toward those who are doing
      better, driving fancy cars and so on."

      Mohsen Faraji, 25, member of the Basiji militia who
      enforce social restrictions such as Islamic dress
      codes for women, said a win for Ahmadinejad, who
      outlawed billboards of English soccer star David
      Beckham in Tehran, would herald a new era for Iran.

      "History will remember this election," he said. "A
      wave of change is coming. People want Ahmadinejad as
      he's one of them."

      Despite reformist distaste for Rafsanjani, who many
      accuse of lacking true democratic credentials, he was
      the lesser of two evils, Khatami said.

      "Although we may not agree with all Rafsanjani's
      programs we have to support him."

      The largest pro-reform students organization, which
      boycotted Friday's election, also said it would
      actively campaign for a Rafsanjani win.

      Formal campaigning can only start on Tuesday and must
      end 24 hours before the run-off giving the candidates
      just two days to canvass more support.

      (Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi, Edmund Blair,
      Amir Paivar and Christian Oliver)
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