Correction to This Article
The article incorrectly said that the Guardian Council is selected by the supreme leader and the head of the judiciary. Six of the council's 12 members are appointed by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The remaining six are nominated by the judiciary and must be approved by Parliament.

In Iran, Mousavi Exhorts Election Protesters

After a hotly contested election pitting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against leading challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi, the government declared Ahmadinejad the winner on June 13. Mousavi's supporters took to the streets to protest the results, and were met with harsh security crackdowns.

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By Thomas Erdbrink
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, June 15, 2009

TEHRAN, June 14 -- A defiant Mir Hossein Mousavi, leading an opposition movement against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called on his supporters Sunday to continue protesting the outcome of the election in which the incumbent was proclaimed the landslide winner. Mousavi asked the influential Guardian Council to declare the election null and void because of fraud and irregularities.

Riots erupted for a second day, with gunshots heard in several locations in Tehran and unrest in the Caspian Sea city of Rasht and the central Iranian city of Shiraz, witnesses said in phone interviews. A large rally is planned by Mousavi supporters for Monday afternoon in Tehran.

On Sunday, Ahmadinejad led a victory rally near Vali-e Asr square attended by tens of thousands of people waving Iranian flags, which his campaign adopted as its symbol. At an earlier news conference, he declared the Iranian election a "true manifestation of people's right to decide their own destiny."

"Some . . . say the vote is disrupted, there has been a fraud," he said at the rally. "Where are the irregularities in the election?"

Young members of Iran's voluntary paramilitary force, the Basij, carried batons as they roamed the streets in groups on motorcycles, many wearing black helmets and green vests. Ahmadinejad said the demonstrators were "a few weeds that are making problems." To cheers, he said there would be no more place for them in Iran.

In asking the Guardian Council to nullify the election, Mousavi wrote on his Web site, "I believe this to be the only way to return the general trust and support of the people for the government." The site is now blocked in Iran.

The council is a 12-member commission that must validate the election before an official winner can be declared. Council members are appointed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, and the head of the judiciary. The council vets candidates and has the power to veto laws deemed inconsistent with Islam. It has not yet acted. although state media have pronounced Ahmadinejad the victor. Mousavi complained to the council about interference from security forces and the use of irregular procedures in the election.

"Those who with great violations have issued results unbelievable for the Iranian nation are now trying to stabilize those results and start a new era in the history of our nation," Mousavi's statement said. He added that the protests over the results were not about him personally. "They are because of worries over the new method of political life which is being forced onto our country," he wrote.

He recalled that during the campaign, he had many times warned of what he called illegal behavior by the Ahmadinejad government. "I stressed that such a method might result in despotism and dictatorship, and today our nation is at a point that it sees this fate looming," he said.

He urged the authorities to issue a permit for "massive" demonstrations in Iranian cities, writing that this would be the best way to stop the riots. "People will have a chance to show their protest and opposition to the method of the holding of the election and its result," Mousavi wrote, urging his supporters to continue using the color green, his campaign's signature color, in their protests. Cellphone service was cut for the second day in a row Sunday in an effort to quell riots.

Mousavi urged police forces not to use violence against protesters: "These people have come on the scene to acquire their rights and your rights and are your brothers and sisters. The power of our police and military forces has always been in their unity with the people, and it will remain so in the future." Many people have been severely beaten by special riot police and members of the Basij.

For the second night, fierce clashes broke out in Tehran and a growing number of other cities. Official security forces as well as members of the Basij attacked demonstrators and bystanders. Cars were burned in West Tehran, and shots were heard in the northwestern parts of the city. Iran's judiciary has said it will bring demonstrators swiftly to court.


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