Condemning protests following country’s disputed presidential election, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed opposition candidates’ charge of election being rigged in favour of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his awaited speech following Friday’s prayers.
Khamenei, in his speech, claimed that the high voter turnout at the elections showed how much the Iranian people backed the regime, and warned protesters to keep off the streets.
The reformist presidential challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was absent at Friday prayers at Tehran University, where Khamenei was making his first public appearance since he endorsed Ahmadinejad’s re-election as president.
With the crowd chanting “Death to the US,” Khamenei appreciated the president as “hardworking” and dismissed the allegation that the election have been rigged.
“The Islamic republic will never manipulate votes and commit treason,” he said. “The legal structure in this country does not allow vote-rigging.” He said that vote-rigging to the extent of the 11m votes in the official results was impossible.
He added: “If some people have doubts and evidence it should be dealt with through legal ways – only through legal ways. I will never accept illegal innovations.”
Mousavi’s supporters had called for a boycott of prayers at the university in the wake of denial to rescind the result of poll but TV channels show thousands of people listening to Khamenei and occasionally chanting affirmation of his words.
Apparently referring to protesters, Khamenei said that people were “wrong” if they thought to be able to influence the establishment by taking to the streets.
“Arm wrestling in the street must stop,” he said. “I want everyone to put an end to this. If they don’t stop this … they will be held accountable for all of this.”
He insisted that it was “natural” for people to support different candidates but that the foreign media was responsible for portraying supporters of Mousavi as opposed to the Islamic revolution.
“Enemies try through various media, and some of these media belong to the Zionists … they try to make believe that there is a fight between supporters of the opposition and the Islamic establishment,” said Khamenei. “They have no right to say that, that is not true.”
Describing the 85% turnout at the election as a “great accomplishment” and a “political earthquake” for Iran’s enemies, he said that was bringing a message for “leaders of world arrogance, the western countries”.