Iran's electoral watchdog has confirmed the contested results of this month's presidential election won by incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after a partial recount that was boycotted by the opposition, according to state television.
REUTERS - Ahead of the expected news, riot police were deployed in main thoroughfares and squares of the capital Tehran where protests grew after Ahmadinejad was first declared victor of the June 12 vote, witnesses said.
"The secretary of the Guardian Council, in a letter to the interior minister, announced the final decision of the Council ... and declares the approval of the accuracy of the results of ... the presidential election," state broadcaster IRIB said.
Official results released a day after the election showed Ahmadinejad won by a landslide. State media say 20 people died in violence that followed.
The disputed poll and its turbulent aftermath have exposed splits in Iran's political establishment and plunged the country into its deepest crisis since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The Council agreed to recount a random 10 percent of the votes after the protests, which pro-government Basij militia and riot police broke up.
"The Guardian Council statement was issued when it became convinced about the accuracy of the election. The recount took seven hours ... and ended at 8 p.m. (1530 GMT)," Council spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodai said on state television.
Kadkhodai said no irregularities were proven in the vote recount, adding: "The dossier of the ... election has been closed today."
Opposition supporters say the vote was rigged to favour the hardline president over reformist rivals including Mirhossein Mousavi, who came second. The government and Mousavi each blamed the other for the violence that followed.
Mousavi had rejected the idea of a recount, saying the vote should be completely annulled.He did not send representatives to Monday's recount, his website said.
STRAINS WITH WEST
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Iran's rulers were still likely to face internal opposition over the vote despite the recount.
"They have a huge credibility gap with their own people as to the election process. And I don't think that's going to disappear by any finding of a limited review of a relatively small number of ballots," she told a news conference.
Asked if Washington would recognise Ahmadinejad as the democratically elected president of Iran, she said:
"We're going to take this a day at a time. We're going to watch and carefully assess what we see happening."
The street protests have strained relations with the West and in particular Britain, which has rejected accusations that its embassy encouraged the opposition. Iran had detained nine local embassy staff but freed five of them on Monday.
Speaking before the Guardian Council announcement, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the Group of Eight wealthy powers were likely to agree to adopt fresh sanctions on Iran when they meet in Italy next week, though he gave no details.
The Council earlier made clear it would not annul the vote, describing it as the healthiest since the Islamic revolution.
"The Guardian Council approval of the vote negates the possibility of an election re-run," Iran's English-language Press TV television station said on its website.
IRNA news agency said recounting in one Tehran district gave Ahmadinejad more votes than in the initial count.
RIOT POLICE DEPLOYED
Witnesses reported an increased police presence in some Tehran squares ahead of the announcement.
One said riot police were out in force on a northern section of tree-lined Vali-ye Asr, Tehran's most famous boulevard. Relatively prosperous northern Tehran is a stronghold of Mousavi supporters.
Reporting from different locations where recounting took place across the world's fifth biggest oil exporter, Iranian news agencies said representatives of Mousavi and Karoubi were not present even though they had been invited.
The methodology of the recount was not immediately clear.
Iran's hardline rulers, locked in a row with the West over nuclear ambitions, have blamed the trouble on foreign powers rather than popular anger.
They said they were keeping four British embassy staff for questioning after releasing the other five detainees. London said Tehran's actions were unacceptable.
"Iran's action, first the expulsion of two diplomats and now the arrest of a number of our locally engaged staff, is unacceptable, unjustified and without foundation and we with our international partners will continue to make this clear," Prime Minister Gordon Brown told reporters in London.
The European Union said it stood by London.
Date created : 2009-06-29