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MID: Iran police out in force as election result upheld

By Jay Deshmukh
30 Jun 2009 4:00 AM

TEHRAN, June 29 AFP - Iranian police have been out in force across the capital Tehran as the authorities uphold the official results of this month's fiercely-disputed presidential election over opposition protests.

State television have announced that, after a "thorough and comprehensive investigation", the official electoral watchdog has upheld the re-election of hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a vote denounced by his main challenger, former premier Mir Hossein Mousavi, as a "shameful fraud".

The head of the Guardians Council, Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, concluded that "the majority of the objections were not deemed infringements or fraud and were only minor irregularities that occur in each election," the station reported on Monday.

Mousavi's supporters had boycotted the partial recount of the vote carried out by the council following the complaints of the defeated candidates.

The opposition had demanded a complete rerun and has staged massive public demonstrations in a dispute that has shaken the foundations of the Islamic regime, with unprecedented criticism of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

According to the official results, Ahmadinejad won by a thumping majority of 63 per cent against just 34 per cent for Mousavi, a gap of 11 million votes.

Witnesses said hundreds of policemen and Basij militiamen carrying sticks were deployed in Tehran's main public squares to prevent any recurrence of the opposition protests over the conduct of the election that have broken out since the June 12 poll.

They said security forces were also randomly checking the boots of cars and vehicles, and checking the identification cards of drivers.

Western governments meanwhile expressed outrage at the continued detention by the Iranian authorities of four locally hired staff of the British embassy in Tehran.

Earlier in the day, Iran freed five of the nine embassy staffers it had initially detained, but British prime minister Gordon Brown slammed the arrests as "unacceptable, unjustified and without foundation" and demanded the immediate release of the other four.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton described Iran's treatment of the British embassy staff as "deplorable" and said Washington was following the situation "with great concern".

Speaking after talks with Brown in London, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso expressed his "full solidarity" with Britain over the arrests.

"Intimidation and harassment are unacceptable and they will be met with a strong collective European response," he warned.

Iran has repeatedly accused the West, particularly Britain and the United States, of "meddling" as its Islamic rulers struggle to contain the most serious upheaval since the revolution 30 years ago.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said Tehran had no plans to close the British mission or other embassies or downgrade diplomatic ties with foreign nations.

He said the remaining staff were still being questioned, after Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie accused the British embassy of sending its staff to "escalate the riots".

In the face of a massive crackdown on protesters, the opposition has scaled down its public demonstrations over the election results.

At least 17 people have been killed and many more wounded in clashes with security forces, according to state media.

Ahmadinejad called for a probe into the death of Neda Agah-Soltan, a woman whose apparent killing by the Islamic militia during a protest rally in Tehran generated an international outcry.

Neda became an icon for the opposition after an internet video showing her final moments was seen around the world.

The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights said on Sunday more than 2,000 people are still in custody and hundreds more missing across Iran after the government crackdown.

The website of Karroubi's Etemad Melli (National Confidence) party said a reporter working with the website had been arrested on Saturday.