UNREST IN TEHRAN…. Iranian officials declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the official winner of the nation’s presidential election this morning. Any chances of a Moussavi victory were dashed when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered a message on state-run media, urging Iranians to rally behind Ahmadinejad. Khamenei described the election results a “divine assessment.”
A whole lot of Iranians have reached a very different conclusion.
Riot police clashed with supporters of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in the center of the city Saturday evening after the government declared that he had been defeated in a landslide by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Tear gas and batons were used by police to battle angry crowds, a bus was set on fire and explosions were heard in the distance.
On some streets, the protesters pushed back the riot police. Women wrapped their headscarves around their faces to ward off the tear gas. Stones were thrown at the police.
Mousavi, a former prime minister who waged a heated campaign against Ahmadinejad’s bid for reelection, urged his supporters to reject a “governance of lie and dictatorship.” He attributed the results to widespread vote fraud and vowed to resist a “dangerous manipulation” of the balloting.
The demonstrators on the streets carried placards and shouted protests that the election had been stolen. The word in the crowd was that Mousavi would lead a march toward the Interior Ministry, where the votes were counted and which announced that Ahmadinejad had won with 62.6 percent of the vote to less than 34 percent for Mousavi.
Mousavi issued a statement vowing not to “surrender,” calling the election results “treason to the votes of the people.” He added that Iranians would not “respect those who take power through fraud.”
NBC News reported that some of the protesters shouted, “Death to the dictator, death to Ahmadinejad” and “We want our votes back.”
This does not appear to be just another election in Iran, and the backlash against the illegitimacy of the process seems to be severe. Iranian governing regime, for the first time in a long time, has a serious domestic problem on their hands.