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Iran's Guardian Council Endorses Results of Disputed Election

Iran's electoral watchdog, the Guardian Council, says has seen no signs of fraud in 10 days of investigations, rejecting claims by three defeated presidential candidates of vote rigging. At the same time, a hardline cleric told Friday's prayer gathering in Tehran that "rioters" should be executed.

The Guardian Council said Friday that it has found no significant violations after 10 days of investigating the disputed June 12 presidential election. All three defeated candidates have protested the results, charging electoral fraud.

The Council's spokesman, Abbas-ali Kadkhodaie, told the Iranian news agency (IRNA), that it was one of the cleanest elections the country has ever had and he said there was no fraud in the election.

Top opposition leader and defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, however, reiterated on his Web site that "a major rigging has occurred," adding that he was "ready to prove that those behind the rigging are responsible for [the recent] bloodshed."

The Iranian government has officially admitted there have been at least 17 deaths from post-election unrest, but eyewitness reports suggest that there were many more.

Unconfirmed reports say thousands of Iranians have visited Tehran's main cemetery in the past 24 hours to mourn the victims of the violence.

Elsewhere, at the Friday prayer sermon at Tehran University, hardline cleric Ahmed Khatami urged Iran's judiciary to "punish key rioters ruthlessly and savagely."

Rioters, he insisted, should be considered people who wage war against God. Such individuals, he said, should be punished by death.

Khatami also demanded that the government impose draconian measures on foreign journalists, complaining that "they wander around the country with satellite phones, giving information to incite demonstrations."

Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was shown on state TV describing his sadness at recent violence in Tehran's Haft e Tir Square during an opposition rally.

Al-Arabiya TV continued to report a split within the regime, noting that former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsandjani, has come under increasing pressure to declare his loyalty to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran analyst Mehrdad Khonsari of the London-based Center for Arab and Iranian Studies, thinks that the popular opposition to the regime will continue, albeit in new ways:

"I don't think that the demonstrations have died down. You have to put things into perspective," said Khonsari. "Even at the time of the [1979] Islamic Revolution, the process began and lasted for about two years before it reached its point of culmination. I don't think that the demonstrators have thrown in the towel, just yet, but the point is that they are adjusting their tactics and trying not to waste their resources … I think that the polarization which has taken place is a very deep one and the divisions and the stubbornness of the regime in trying to ram its decisions down people's throats is not something that is just going to fade away. We will see it re-emerging in a different way in coming days."

Mr. Mousavi has vowed to resist pressure to end his challenge of the June 12 election results but he also urged supporters to continue protests in a way that will not create tension.