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Iran Vetting Body To Recount Some Ballots

Mir Hossein Musavi spoke to a massive gathering of his supporters on June 15, the largest public rally since the 1979 revolution.
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran's top vetting body has said it was ready to carry out a partial recount in a disputed presidential election that has prompted the biggest street protests since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

In what appeared to be a first concession by authorities to the protest movement, the powerful 12-man Guardians Council said it was ready to retally votes in the poll in which hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad was declared the runaway winner.

But a spokesman for the Guardians Council said only that it was "ready to recount the disputed ballot boxes claimed by some candidates, in the presence of their representatives."

"It is possible that there may be some changes in the tally after the recount," spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodai was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

However, Kadkhodai told state television that annulling the vote was not an option. "Based on the law, the demand of those candidates for the cancellation of the vote, this cannot be considered," he said.

Iranians outraged by Mir Hossein Musavi's defeat in what they viewed as a stolen election were planning another rally on June 16, even though seven people were killed on June 15 on the fringes of a huge march through the streets of Tehran.

Ahmadinejad's supporters called for a counter-rally at the same Tehran square, setting the scene for more confrontation in the turmoil that has riveted attention on the world's fifth biggest oil exporter since the June 12 poll.

Further protests, especially if they are maintained on the same scale, would be a direct challenge to the authorities, who have kept a tight grip on dissent since the 1979 overthrow of the U.S.-backed shah after months of demonstrations.

Iranian state television said on June 16 the "main agents" in postelection unrest had been arrested with explosives and guns. It gave no further details in a breaking-news headline.

Iran Election Diary

Iran Election Diary
Disputed Presidential Vote
There have been protests and clashes with police on the streets of Tehran following the disputed reelection of Mahmud Ahmadinejad. RFE/RL collects videos, photos, and messages on social-networking sites coming out of Iran to attempt to get a picture of what is happening inside the country. Click here