Friday, 19 June 2009


Mousavi states his case
Asia Times Online
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

Mir Hossein Mousavi, the reformist candidate challenging
Iran's authorities on the result of last week's
presidential elections, is a masterful tactician who wants
to overturn the re-election of his rival, President Mahmud
Ahmadinejad, with allegations of a massive conspiracy that
he claims cheated him and millions of his supporters.

These supporters, identifiable by the color green they have
adopted, have taken to the streets in the tens of thousands
and on Thursday were to stage a "day of mourning" for what
they say is a lost election. This follows a "silent" march
through the streets of the capital on Wednesday. To date,
at least 10 people - some Iranian sources say 32 - have
been killed in clashes.

Mousavi has lodged an official complaint with the powerful
12-member Guardians Council, which has ordered a partial
recount of the vote. The complaint's main flaw is that it
passes improper or questionable pre-election conduct as
something else, that is, as evidence of voting fraud.

The protest, which seeks fresh elections, is short on
specifics and long on extraneous, election-unrelated
complaints. The first two items relate to the televised
debates that were held between the candidates, rather than
anything germane to the vote count.

There is also some innuendo, such as a claim that
Ahmadinejad used state-owned means of transportation to
campaign around the country, overlooking that there is
nothing unusual about incumbent leaders using the resources
at their disposal for election purposes. All previous
presidents, including the reformist Mohammad Khatami, who
is a main supporter of Mousavi, did the same.

Another complaint by Mousavi is that Ahmadinejad had
disproportionate access to the state-controlled media. This
has indeed been a bad habit in the 30-year history of the
Islamic Republic, but perhaps less so this year because for
the first time there were television debates, six of them,
which allowed Mousavi and the other challengers free space
to present their points of view.

With respect to alleged specific irregularities, the
complaint cites a shortage of election forms that in some
places caused a "few hours delay". This is something to
complain about, but it hardly amounts to fraud, especially
as voter turnout was a record high of 85% of the eligible
46 million voters. (Ahmadinejad was credited with 64% of
the vote.)

Mousavi complains that in some areas the votes cast were
higher than the number of registered voters. But he fails
to add that some of those areas, such as Yazd, were places
where he received more votes that Ahmadinejad.

Furthermore, Mousavi complains that some of his monitors
were not accredited by the Interior Ministry and therefore
he was unable to independently monitor the elections.
However, several thousand monitors representing the various
candidates were accredited and that included hundreds of
Mousavi's eyes and ears.

They should have documented any irregularities that, per
the guidelines, should have been appended to his complaint.
Nothing is appended to Mousavi's two-page complaint,
however. He does allude to some 80 letters that he had
previously sent to the Interior Ministry, without either
appending those letters or restating their content.

Finally, item eight of the complaint cites Ahmadinejad's
recourse to the support given by various members of Iran's
armed forces, as well as Foreign Minister Manouchehr
Mottaki's brief campaigning on Ahmadinejad's behalf. These
are legitimate complaints that necessitate serious scrutiny
since by law such state individuals are forbidden to take
sides. It should be noted that Mousavi can be accused of
the same irregularity as his headquarters had a division
devoted to the armed forces.

Given the thin evidence presented by Mousavi, there can be
little chance of an annulment of the result.
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) . For his Wikipedia entry, click here. His latest book, Reading In Iran Foreign Policy After September 11 (BookSurge Publishing , October 23, 2008) is now available.

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