23 Jun 2009

Iran's Guardian Council rules out annulling election

9:57 pm on 23 June 2009

Iran's highest electoral authority has clearly stated that it will not annul the disputed result of the presidential election, despite admitting there were voting irregularities.

Opposition supporters called for the vote to be set aside and the elections re-run amid claims of vote tampering.

But state media in Iran are reporting that the Guardian Council says it found no evidence of major fraud or breaches in the vote.

The BBC reports this is another clear sign that the Iranian authorities are not open to compromise.

The latest statement from the council comes a day after rare admission that there had been some voting irregularities on 12 June.

On Monday, the council conceded there had been voting irregularities in 50 districts, including local vote counts that exceeded the number of eligible voters.

However, it said they were not enough to affect the overall result and incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had indeed won by a landslide. He won 63% of the vote - almost double that of nearest rival Mir Hossein Mousavi.

The council's spokesperson said most of the irregularities happened before the election, not during or after voting.

Angry protests sparked by allegations of vote-rigging are continuing, with at least 19 people killed so far in clashes with police.

Security forces have flooded the streets and the Revolutionary Guard threatened to meet any illegal gatherings with what it called decisive confrontation.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier called for an end to violence, urging authorities in Iran to respect fundamental civil rights, "especially the freedom of assembly and expression", and an end to arrests.

Iran's foreign ministry has accused Western governments of explicitly backing violent protests.