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Disputing Election, Pro-reform Marchers Fill Tehran Streets

BY Admin  June 15, 2009 at 10:45 AM EST

Mir Hossein Mousavi supporters in Tehran; Getty

Shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is great), they
converged on Revolution Square, where the moderate former prime minister was
expected to call for calm after two days of violent unrest in the capital,
which have marked the starkest display of discontent in the Islamic Republic in
years.

The crowd — many wearing the trademark green color of
Mousavi’s campaign — was the largest display of opposition unity since
Friday’s elections ended with Mousavi claiming widespread fraud.

“Mousavi, take back our votes,” the marchers
chanted as they waited for Mousavi and other pro-reform leaders who back his
call for the election result to be overturned.

There was no sign of violence or challenges from security
forces, the Associated Press reported. Anti-riot stood by with their helmets
off and shields at their sides.

But a witness told Reuters that some Ahmadinejad supporters
on motorbikes and armed with sticks clashed with marching Mousavi backers. The
witness said there were scuffles between the rival groups and that Ahmadinejad
supporters used sticks to hit opponents.

Monday’s march came hours after Iran’s supreme leader,
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered an examination into Mousavi’s claims of vote
rigging. But it was unclear how the investigation will proceed.

Mousavi has asked the watchdog Guardian Council to annul the
election results, citing irregularities. The Interior Ministry and the
president have rejected charges of fraud.

Khamenei, who has upheld the
election result, met Mousavi on Sunday and told him to pursue his complaints
“calmly and legally,” state television said.

The 12-man Guardian Council, whose chairman, Ayatollah Ahmad
Jannati, endorsed Ahmadinejad before the vote, said it would rule within 10
days on two official complaints it had received from Mousavi and another losing
candidate, Mohsen Rezaie. The council vets election candidates and must
formally approve results for the outcome to stand.

The election outcome has disconcerted Western powers trying
to induce the world’s fifth-biggest oil exporter to curb nuclear work they
suspect is for bomb-making, a charge Iran denies.

The European Union plans to demand clarification of
Ahmadinejad’s victory and voice concern at the treatment of his opponents,
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said after talks in Luxembourg
with EU counterparts.

U.S. leaders have reacted cautiously, in the hope of keeping
alive President Barack Obama’s strategy of engagement with Iran.

On Monday, Ahmadinejad delayed a visit to Russia for a
regional summit, but he was expected to arrive there on Tuesday.