Tehran, Iran (RPRN) 6/19/2009â€“Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says there was a “definitive victory” and no vote-rigging in a disputed presidential election that has triggered the worst unrest in Iran in three decades. In his first address to the nation since the June 12 vote, Ayatollah Khamenei accused Iran’s enemies of targeting the legitimacy of the Islamic establishment by disputing the election outcome.
The ayatollah told thousands in Tehran that the people had chosen the one they found the most appropriate to serve, with incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning a “decisive victory” with 63-percent of the vote.
The televised address follows nearly a week of massive protests by supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who contested election results, alleging the vote was rigged.
Ayatollah Khamenei appealed for calm Friday and an end to street protests, saying any doubts about the outcome of the election must be investigated through legal channels.Â He also said the 11 million vote margin of victory for the incumbent president indicates there was no fraud.
Iran’s supreme leader said the opposition will be held responsible for any violence.
Thursday, Mr. Mousavi addressed tens of thousands of his supporters in Tehran and called for calm and restraint.
At least seven protesters have been killed by pro-government militia, and several opposition members, activists and journalists have been arrested in recent days.
United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay issued a statement Friday, expressing concerns about the arrests. Pillay warned that illegal acts by militia and security forces “could provoke a serious deterioration in the security situation.”
Iran’s Council of Guardians, a powerful body that supervises the elections, has invited Mr. Mousavi and two other defeated presidential candidates (Mohsen Rezaei and Mehdi Karroubi) to a meeting Saturday to discuss their concerns.Â The Council has offered to conduct a partial recount of the vote, and a spokesman for the body says it has begun examining 646 complaints of irregularities.
In his speech, Ayatollah Khamenei stressed that all of the presidential candidates were part of the Islamic establishment.
In Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs reiterated U.S. President Barack Obama’s support of the Iranian people’s right to protest peacefully.Â Gibbs also repeated the U.S. position that it does not want to interfere in Iran’s electoral process.
Video of the protests obtained by VOA’s Persian News Network can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/pnnvideo.
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Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP
Photo Credit: WIkipedia