In the disputed presidential elections in Iran, hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has registered a landslide victory, something that can foil US President Barack Obama’s efforts to engage Iran.
Interestingly, the chief rival candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi declared himself won defiantly hours before the result was out, charging that there had been foul play and voting “irregularities”.
“I am the absolute winner of the election by a very large margin,” Mr. Moussavi said during a news conference with reporters just after 11 p.m. Friday, adding: “It is our duty to defend people’s votes. There is no turning back.”
A statement posted on Mousavi’s Web site on Saturday morning urged his supporters to resist a “governance of lie and dictatorship”.
The result of the elections, a bitter campaign of which had electrified Iranians, disappointed those who expected that Mousavi’s victory could open the doors to good relation with the West, which fears the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme is a cover for bomb-making. Iran denies this.
Though the ultimate control of Iran’s nuclear and foreign policies lies with supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, defeat for Ahmadinejad could have heralded a less antagonistic approach to the United States and much of the rest of the world.
“I don’t think anyone anticipated this level of fraudulence,” Karim Sadjadpour, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said.
“This was a selection, not an election. At least authoritarian regimes like Syria and Egypt have no democratic pretences. In retrospect it appears this entire campaign was a show: Ayatollah Khamenei wasn’t ever going to let Ahmadinejad lose.”