Iran Clerics Rule Out Election Annulment

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his ballot for the presidential elections in Tehran, Iran, June, 12, 2009. AP/Iranian Student News Agency

Last Updated 2:10 a.m. Eastern.

Iran's state TV reports the country's top electoral authority has ruled out annulling the results of the disputed June 12 election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was named the winner.

A spokesman for the Guardian Council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, was quoted by Iran's state-run English language Press TV as saying Tuesday that the organization had found "no major fraud or breach in the election."

"Therefore, there is no possibility of an annulment taking place," he said.

Ahmadinejad's main challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, has charged the election was a fraud and insists he is the true winner. His followers have been staging near-daily rallies. In recent days, the government has intensified a crackdown on the protests.

Mousavi has called for an independent probe, alleging the Guardian Council is not neutral and has already indicated support for Ahmadinejad.

IranWatch: Track the latest on the Iran election upheaval.

Iran's conservative Mehr news agency reported Monday that the Guardian Council's findings would be released on Wednesday.

The Council, an unelected body of 12 clerics and Islamic law experts close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, finished examining all the complaints filed at the start of this week, according to Mehr.

With Tuesday's announcement, Iran's regime appeared to be closing another door to compromise. Iran's supreme leader had already praised Ahmadinejad as the winner and ordered post-election protesters off the streets.

Riot police cracked down anew on demonstrators in Iran's capital on Monday hours after the feared Revolutionary Guard threatened to crush any further post-election protests.

Security forces used tear gas and fired live bullets in the air to break up a group of about 200 protesters paying tribute to a young woman whose apparent shooting death was captured on video and circulated around the world.

Such threats and the deaths of at least 17 people since the start of the protests have prompted growing concern by the international community about the fate of opposition supporters. In New York, U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon urged an "immediate stop to the arrests, threats and use of force," U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said at U.N. headquarters Monday.

The announcement by the Guardian Council came a day after it said - in a rare acknowledgment - that there had been voting irregularities in 50 districts, including local vote counts that exceeded the number of eligible voters. However, the council said the discrepancies were not widespread enough to affect the result. The council agreed last week to investigate opposition complaints of problems in the voting.
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