Iran bans pro-Mousavi rally
(AL JAZEERA) Iranian officials have refused to permit supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, a defeated reformist presidential candidate, to hold a protest against the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president.
Pro-Mousavi demonstrators had handed out leaflets calling for a rally in the capital, Tehran, on Monday after the former prime minister appealed for the result of Friday’s vote to be cancelled.
“No authorisation for a march or gathering has been issued and any kind of gathering or march is illegal,” an interior ministry official told the AFP news agency.
”]“This statement is being issued after a request was made by Mr Mousavi to hold a march.”
A statement on a website used by Mousavi supporters said that the rally had been postponed, but the former prime minister was strongly protesting the interior ministry’s decision.
There have been two days of clashes between Mousavi supporters and riot police since Ahmadinejad was declared the landslide winner of the presidential poll.
Figures from the interior ministry showed that Ahmadinejad had taken 62.63 per cent of the vote, against 33.75 per cent for Mousavi.
Mousavi said on his website on Sunday that he had asked the Guardian Council, a powerful body of 12 religious scholars charged with interpreting the constitution, to annul the results.
“Today, I have submitted my official formal request to the council to cancel the election result,” he was quoted as saying.
“I urge you, Iranian nation, to continue your nationwide protests in a peaceful and legal way.”
A spokesman for the Guardian Council on Monday said it had received two official complaints from defeated presidential candidates and would issue its ruling within 10 days.
“After reviewing their [Mousavi and Mohsen Rezaie, another defeated candidate] complaints, the result will be announced to the candidates,” the ISNA news agency quoted Guardian Council spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodai as saying.
“This could be good news for supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi,” Al Jazeera’s Alireza Ronaghi, reporting from Tehran, said.
“But to look at it another way, from Mir Hossein Mousavi’s supporters point of view, it could be a way to keep them off the streets for this 10-day period.”
Demonstrators threw stones at police outside Tehran University on Sunday and fought with Ahmadinejad supporters on a main street in the city that was littered with broken glass.
In the north of the capital, a stronghold of Mousavi supporters, riot police patrolled streets overnight. Rubbish burned in the streets, some cars had their windows broken, and police blocked access to roads.
Iran’s president defended his re-election in front of thousands of supporters in Tehran’s Vali Asr square, insisting that the vote was not “distorted” as claimed by his rivals.
“Elections in Iran are the cleanest. But some inside or outside Iran have come out and said the elections have been distorted. Where is the distortion in the election?” Ahmadinejad said as the crowds shouted “Bravo Ahmadi!”
“Some people want democracy only for their own sake. Some want elections, freedom, a sound election. They recognise it only as long as the result favours them,” he said.
A range of communications have been disrupted inside Iran since election day, including those which could be used to organise protests.
Text messages could not be sent from mobile phones on Sunday, and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were not working.
Several foreign news organisations complained that Iranian authorities were blocking their reporters from covering protests against Ahmadinejad’s re-election.
German public television channels ZDF and ARD said their reporters were not allowed to broadcast their reports, while the Dubai-based Arab news channel Al-Arabiya said its Tehran office was shut down for a week.