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Iran Vows To Make Example of Arrestees

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.

"If a major breach occurs in an election, the Guardian Council may annul the votes that come out of a particular affected ballot box, polling station, district or city," council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodai said, according to state-run news media. "Fortunately, in the recent presidential election we found no evidence of major fraud or breach in the election. Therefore, there is no possibility of an annulment taking place."

The council has agreed to a random recount of 10 percent of the ballots, but Mousavi and another opposition candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, have rejected the overture.

The council also asked Khamenei, who holds ultimate political and religious authority in Iran, to give it five more days to examine opposition complaints, extending a deadline that was to expire Wednesday. The council chairman, Ahmad Jannati, requested the extension "in order to remove any ambiguity" over the election results, state media said.

Khamenei approved the extension Tuesday.

There was no indication, however, that authorities were backing off their support for Ahmadinejad's reelection, which Khamenei effectively endorsed in a televised sermon during Friday prayers last week.

Moreover, a parliamentary board announced Tuesday that Ahmadinejad would be sworn in for his second term between July 26 and Aug. 19. Lawmakers will also review credentials of cabinet ministers during that period, IRNA reported.

And in an apparent effort to discredit the opposition, state television broadcast interviews with "rioters" who confessed to being influenced by Western news media.

A semiofficial news agency allied with Ahmadinejad also harshly denounced a group of Shiite religious figures close to former president Mohammad Khatami. The semiofficial Fars News Agency said members of the group, the Association of Combatant Clerics, were acting like "Zionists" and monarchists and "have now officially joined the anti-revolutionaries," a term used for enemies of Iran's political system.

In a letter, the group wrote that "the people of Iran, who with thousands of hopes, wishes and excitement came to voting boxes, are now gathering the bodies of their youth out of blood and soil, and are in mourning. Should these justice-seeking objections be answered with bullets that rip through the hearts of their children?"

In an indication of splits within the Majlis, or parliament, a group of 24 lawmakers summoned Interior Minister Sadegh Mahsouli to answer questions about what they described as the government's crackdown on reformists, including a nighttime raid early last week on student dormitories at Tehran University. The raid, in which student protesters were beaten and dorm rooms ransacked and burned, was carried out by pro-government militiamen, officials have acknowledged.

The lawmakers chastised Mahsouli for failing to identify and arrest the attackers and for "a lack of crisis management," the state-run Press TV reported.

Branigin reported from Washington.

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