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Hardliner Ahamdinejad wins Iran presidential vote

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050625/wl_nm/iran_election_dc;_ylt=AgkM3jYU1rD1EayyJsCxfh8UewgF;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b3JuZGZhBHNlYwM3MjE- Hardliner Ahamdinejad wins Iran
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 24, 2005
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050625/wl_nm/iran_election_dc;_ylt=AgkM3jYU1rD1EayyJsCxfh8UewgF;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b3JuZGZhBHNlYwM3MjE-

      Hardliner Ahamdinejad wins Iran presidential vote

      By Parisa Hafezi 15 minutes ago

      TEHRAN (Reuters) - Ultra-conservative Tehran mayor
      Mahmoud Ahmadinejad swept to victory in
      Iran's presidential election on Saturday, an official
      said, spelling a possible end to fragile social
      reforms and rapprochement with the West.

      Ahmadinejad, 48, received the backing of the religious
      poor to defeat moderate cleric Akbar Hashemi
      Rafsanjani, who was supported by pro-reform parties
      and wealthy Iranians fearful of a hardline monopoly on
      power in the Islamic state.

      "(Only) three million votes remain to be counted so we
      can say now that Ahmadinejad has won the election,"
      said an Interior Ministry official, who declined to be
      named.

      An official at the Guardian Council, which must
      approve the election results, said that out of 18.4
      million voted counted, Ahmadinejad had won 61.5
      percent of ballots cast.

      The official said turnout was 22 million, or 47
      percent, well down on the 63 percent of Iran's 46.7
      million eligible voters who cast ballots in the first
      round on June 17.

      "It's over, we accept that we've lost," a close
      Rafsanjani aide, who asked not to be identified, told
      Reuters.

      Although Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the
      last word on all matters of state, a hardline
      presidency would remove the moderating influence on
      decision-making exercised by outgoing reformist
      President Mohammad Khatami since 1997.

      "This all but closes the door for a breakthrough in
      U.S.-Iran relations," said Karim Sadjadpour,
      Tehran-based analyst for the International Crisis
      Group.

      Washington broke ties with Iran in 1980 and now
      accuses it of developing nuclear weapons and
      supporting terrorism. Iran denies the charges.

      "I think Ahmadinejad is less amenable to compromise on
      the nuclear issue, but it is unclear how much
      influence he will have on it," said Sadjadpour.

      DEEP DIVISIONS

      Friday's vote exposed deep class divisions in the
      oil-producing nation of 67 million people.

      Ahmadinejad's humble lifestyle and pledges to tackle
      corruption and redistribute the country's oil wealth
      have appealed to the urban and rural religious poor.

      "Today is the beginning of a new political era," he
      said as he cast his ballot on Friday.

      Pro-reform political parties, students, clerics and
      academics had backed Rafsanjani, accusing Ahmadinejad
      of representing an authoritarian trend in Iranian
      politics.

      "Ahmadinejad is like a tsunami," a close aide to the
      mayor said. "In this election, the people were on one
      side and political parties supporting Rafsanjani were
      on the other."

      Supreme Leader Khamenei banned either side from
      holding victory celebrations after a fractious
      campaign marred by allegations of electoral
      irregularities.

      "Dragging people onto the streets ... under any
      pretext is against the interests of the country," he
      said in a statement.

      Aides to Rafsanjani, 70, who was president from 1989
      to 1997 and has cast himself as a reformer, had
      accused the hardline Basij militia of intimidating
      voters to back Ahmadinejad.

      "We know massive irregularities have taken place in
      steering votes toward a certain candidate in which the
      Basij has played a role," one aide, Mohammad
      Atrianfar, told reporters.

      Officials at the reformist-run Interior Ministry also
      complained of illegal election-day campaigning.

      "I vote for Ahmadinejad because he wants to cut the
      hands of those who are stealing the national wealth
      and he wants to fight poverty ... and discrimination,"
      said Rahmatollah Izadpanah, 41.

      In wealthier north Tehran, Rafsanjani voters said they
      feared Ahmadinejad would reverse modest reforms made
      under Khatami that allow women to dress in brighter,
      skimpier clothes and couples to fraternise in public
      without fear of arrest.

      "(Rafsanjani) will prevent society from going
      backwards and he will give us some freedom," said
      businessman Morteza, 46.
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