Khamenei rules out results annulment

Iran's supreme leader says he will not give in to pressure from the opposition as protests in downtown Tehran are brutally suppressed by state security.

A handout picture posted on the Iranian Supreme Leader's website shows Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressing Iranian MPs beneath a portrait of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Khomeni during a meeting in Tehran on June 24, 2009. Khamenei warned that the regime would not back down in the face of opposition protests over the disputed presidential vote, amid soaring tensions between Tehran and the West.<br />AFP PHOTO/IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER'S WEBSITE *** Local Caption ***  261861-01-08.jpg *** Local Caption ***  261861-01-08.jpg
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TEHRAN // Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, yesterday ruled out the possibility that the results of the June 12 presidential election would be annulled and said he would not give in to opposition pressure, as protests in downtown Tehran were brutally suppressed by state security. "I had insisted and will insist on implementing the law on the election issue," Ayatollah Khamenei said. "Neither the establishment nor the nation will yield to pressure at any cost." Meanwhile, security forces disbanded protesters who attempted to hold a rally in front of parliament and in six major Tehran squares. The 300 to 400 protesters who tried to congregate in Baharestan Square, where the house of the parliament is located, were beaten with batons and dispersed by tear gas as helicopters circled overhead, eyewitnesses said. The underground was prevented from stopping at Baharestan station so as not to add to the number of protesters, witnesses said. Hundreds of soldiers were present in most major squares and on many streets and arrested dozens of people who tried to join the protesters in Baharestan Square and elsewhere, and stopped pedestrians to check mobiles for videos and pictures, witnesses said. Protest in the form of the nightly "Allahu Akbar" chants from rooftops continue to be the only means available for protesters to express their support for the opposition, witnesses said. Tehran's mayor, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, yesterday called for the government to permit opposition rallies, according to state-run PressTV.

Now that police and religious militia have regained apparent control of the streets after the biggest anti-government protests since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran's hardline leadership is blaming the discontent on foreign powers. "Britain, America and the Zionist regime [Israel] were behind the recent unrest in Tehran," the interior minister, Sadeq Mahsouli, said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. Manouchehr Mottaki, the foreign minister, said Iran was weighing whether to downgrade ties with Britain after each country expelled two diplomats this week. He also announced he had "no plans" to attend a G8 meeting in Italy this week on Afghanistan. Western diplomats had seen the summit, today through Saturday, as a rare chance to discuss with such regional powers as Iran shared goals for Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a new statement, Mehdi Karrubi, a defeated opposition candidate, cancelled a memorial service for those killed in protests scheduled for today and said he was seeking permission for next week. Mr Karrubi also reiterated his rejection of the June 12 election result and said the new government was "illegitimate", his website reported. "I do not accept the result and therefore consider as illegitimate the new government. Because of the irregularities, the vote should be annulled," he said. Mohsen Rezaee, a conservative candidate, withdrew his complaints about fraud in a letter to the Guardian Council because of what he called the sensitive political and security situation. However, on Mr Rezaee's website, a representative, Ali Ahmadi, was quoted as saying that "no recount of the vote has been carried out. If the Guardian Council spokesman continues to spread lies, the real reasons to withdraw the complaint will be announced." Iranian state television said yesterday the partial recount of the vote in the country's disputed June 12 presidential election had verified the result. The intelligence minister, Mohseni Ejei, said a number of people working in Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign had been arrested for their role in the unrest as well as some people who allegedly travelled to Iran on British passports. On Tuesday, Ayatollah Khameini endorsed a request by the Guardian Council to postpone announcement of its decision about the fraud complaints for five days.

The National * With additional reporting by Reuters