Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ahmadinejad Clings to Power in Iran

It looks like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will remain President of Iran. The interior ministry reports that Ahmadinejad won 62.6% of the vote in Friday’s election. His reformist opponent, Mousavi won less than 34%

Mousavi is alleging vote fraud. And I wouldn’t doubt it. Ahmadinejad faced plenty of concern especially with the economy and inflation. At the very least, I would have expected the results to be closer. It does look though that there were shenanigans. The Washington Post reported that:

Mousavi's supporters charged that officials were trying to steal the election and cut off alternative sources of information. For several hours during the balloting Friday, they said, international telephone lines to Tehran were down and text messaging -- which Mousavi's supporters had used to organize street rallies -- was blocked. Members of the baseej, a paramilitary force of volunteers organized by the Revolutionary Guard Corps, reportedly seized a building in North Tehran that housed several Web sites supporting Mousavi, which were shut down.

A senior aide to another opposition candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, charged that the Interior Ministry was distorting the early vote count by providing results from the countryside and not cities. "We believe these results are void and not acceptable," said the aide, Morteza Alviri.

Still, unless something dramatic happens, Ahmadinejad will be President. This seems like a setback for the Obama administration which was no doubt hoping a reformist candidate would win who would be more amenable to the west. But perhaps Ahmadinejad will be more moderate. The widespread violence and riots surely indicate a growing dissatisfaction with Ahmadinejad’s rule.

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