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Iran's Supreme Leader: Nation Will Not Yield to Pressure



Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says he is not prepared to back down, under pressure, over Iran's disputed June 12 presidential election. Scattered reports also say that Iranian riot police have fired teargas to disperse a planned opposition rally in front of the parliament in Tehran.

The audience chanted "Death to America" and "God is great" as Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told them he would not yield to pressure to change the results of the disputed June 12 presidential election in which incumbent Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was declared the victor.

The ayatollah has ordered protests to end and the Iranian News Network (IRINN) quoted him as saying giving in to such pressure would be "violating election law and will lead to dictatorship."

The ayatollah says this does not mean he is willing to turn a blind eye to mistakes, but he believes all discussions and encounters over the issue should be kind and sincere.

Extra days to resolve complaints

The ayatollah granted the body overseeing election disputes, the Guardian Council, an extra five days, until June 24, to resolve complaints. The council spokesman indicated Tuesday the body would not annul the results of the election because there were no major polling irregularities.

Iranian media also reports that one defeated presidential candidate, Mohsen Rezaie, has withdrawn his complaints of voting irregularities to the council.

Overnight opposition protest

Meanwhile, eyewitnesses say many opposition supporters took to their rooftops overnight to shout "Allahu akbar," a rally cry of defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Moussavi.

A video on Mr. Mousavi's Facebook website shows hundreds of cars purportedly honking horns Tuesday to protest government actions.

Mr. Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, is calling for protests to continue and for all arrested protesters to be released.

Hundreds of Iranian politicians, journalists, intellectuals, as well as ordinary citizens have been arrested in recent days.

Key reformists will be investigated

New York-based Human Rights Watch also reported that a "notoriously abusive Iranian prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi" has been charged by the government with investigating key reformists who are now under arrest.

The Arab daily Asharqalawsat and Al Arabiya TV are reporting a split within Iran's ruling clerical establishment and report Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is trying to unseat Ayatollah Khamenei.

But Professor Fouad Ajami, of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), says such talk may be exaggerated.

"I think the clerical estate will hang together or they will hang separately. Yes, Rafsanjani does not care for Ahmedinejad," Ajami said. "Yes, Rafsanjani has had all kinds of differences with the Supreme Leader and yes, Rafsanjani, of all people, must know that behind the curtain, there is not a wizard, but an old man, because he is inside the system and knows the limitations of Khamenei. But nevertheless, I do not think he would tempt such a daring thing.
I think the unity of the clerical estate is crucial to them all, and I think that Rafsanjani is shrewd enough to know that once you go down that path, that is a path of no return."

Professor Ajami says he believes Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, who recently distanced himself from the government crackdown on opposition protests, could be seeking middle ground between the opposition and embattled President Ahmedinejad.


Watch video of protests obtained by VOA's Persian News Network
Follow PNN's Twitter feed in Farsi
Watch slideshow of eyewitness photos from Iran


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