Iran Election: One Opposition Candidate Withdraws Complaint of Rigging

An opposition candidate in Iran’s controversial presidential vote has formally withdrawn complaints of vote rigging, reported state television, thus laying bare the differences between those who had challenged the outcome even as other opponents called for continued protests.

Iran Mohsen Rezai, a former hardline commander of the Revolutionary Guards, had complained that he had evidence of 900,000 votes cast for him, while the official count was 680,000, less than two percent of the turnout in the official tally of 40 million.

Rezai’s move shows that the government’s crackdown on the opposition has left it in confusion.

However, wife of main opposition candidate and former Prime Minister Mir Hussein Moussavi gave a call on Wednesday for immediately liberating Iranians detained in election protests, said his website.

“I regret the arrest of many politicians and people and want their immediate release,” Zahra Rahnavard, who has been playing an influential role in the protests, said according to a European news agency. “It is my duty to continue legal protests to preserve Iranian rights.”

It should be noted that Rezai was the most conservative of the losing candidates and had been facing strong pressure from Iran’s rulers to withdraw from the confrontation.

Rezai, in a letter to Guardian Council, said that the current “political, social and security situation has entered a sensitive and decisive phase, which is more important than the election,” Press TV, state television’s English-language satellite broadcaster, said Wednesday.

The letter was sent to the secretary of the Guardian Council, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the broadcaster said on its Web site

Rezai was quoted as calling the ballot a “clear sample of religious democracy,” sharing language with a powerful defense of the ballot last Friday by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader.

On Wednesday, Ayatollah Khamenei agreed to a request by the Guardian Council – an influential 12-member body of clerics – for five more days to investigate over 600 complaints it says opponents of Ahmadinejad have lodged.

The move appeared largely symbolic since the Guardian Council has already announced it will certify the results. For its part, the government has taken the provocative step of announcing its intention to have Ahmadinejad sworn in as president by early August, despite the most sustained challenge to the government since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

According to Press TV, Rezai said he was withdrawing because of a shortage of time to investigate irregularities.

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