Iran’s Guardian Council, days after it announced it was willing a recount of disputed presidential vote, has said that it had invited the three candidates, who are challenging the official results, to a meeting to discuss their grievances, said state media reports.
The prevailing scene shows that the authorities are prepared for some form of political dialogue after days of protests, though the exact motives, timing and conditions for the recent invitations to opposition candidates remain unclear.
The demonstrations have brought hundreds of thousands of Iranians onto the streets of Tehran in support of Mir Hussein Moussavi, the main opposition candidate, who has accused the authorities of rigging the vote in favor of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The 12-member Guardian Council – a watchdog body that vets news laws and elections and must certify the election results – expressed willingness of conducting a partial recount earlier this week, but the opposition rejected the offer and said that it wanted the vote annulled to make way for a new ballot. The council rejected that demand.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, urged the council on Monday to examine the vote-rigging claims.
The presidential candidates will be invited to the meeting to be held early next week to express their ideas and ask any questions in the presence of the Guardian Council’s members.
It is still not clear as to how the opposition will react to council’s offer of discussion, which would take place after Friday prayers, often addressed by clerics and which are looked at by some people for a signal of government’s next step.
According to reports, Iran’s state radio said that the Guardian Council had commenced a “careful examination” of a total of 646 complaints concerning last Friday’s vote.
State television quoted the council’s spokesman, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, as saying: “The presidential candidates will be invited to the meeting to be held early next week to express their ideas and ask any questions in the presence of the Guardian Council’s members.”
The news came as Iranians challenging the election’s outcome began a day of mourning Thursday and human rights groups accused the authorities of rounding up prominent figures, including a former foreign minister.
Moussavi had urged his followers on Wednesday to visit mosques and parade on the streets on Thursday. The call seemed designed to maintain the momentum of protests that began almost as soon as the election results were announced on Saturday and ballooned this week into mass demonstrations.