Reuters: Reformist opponents of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad requested a recount on Wednesday of votes cast in Tehran in last week’s election after conservatives swept to victory, a news agency reported. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Reformist opponents of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad requested a recount on Wednesday of votes cast in Tehran in last week’s election after conservatives swept to victory, a news agency reported.
Reformists seeking social and political change have complained Friday’s vote was stacked against them even before voters went to the polls because many of their candidates were barred from running by a pre-election vetting process.
Conservatives, who say they are committed to the Islamic Republic’s ideals, won more than 70 percent of seats so far decided in the 290-member parliament. Runoff ballots in some areas will be held in April or May.
In the race for Tehran’s 30 seats, all of the 19 won outright in the first round went to conservatives. Reformists will be among those contesting runoff votes.
Former President Mohammad Khatami and ex-parliament speaker Mehdi Karoubi, both leading reformists, called for a recount because of “worries regarding the outcome of elections in Tehran and in order to prevent any possible violation of rights”.
The comments were made in a statement issued by the Coalition of Reformist Groups and carried by ISNA news agency.
“The request came for a recount of the Tehran votes and, if (a full recount is) not possible, picking random boxes in the presence of candidates or representatives acceptable to candidates in the election,” the statement said.
A reformist politician questioned the counting process on Monday but did not give details. Many reformists were blocked from running by the conservative-controlled Guardian Council, a supervisory body made up of clerics and jurists.
Although conservatives have retained control of the chamber, the camp is split between backers of the hardline president and critics. That means Ahmadinejad could still face a rough ride from parliament before next year’s presidential election.
Analysts say some of the more moderate conservatives could team up with reformists, who have so far won about 40 seats, to challenge Ahmadinejad, particularly over the economy, where he has been blamed for soaring inflation.
Iran’s nuclear, foreign and oil policies are ultimately determined by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not parliament or the president, so they are not expected to see any change as a result of the vote.
However, reformists and a few conservatives have questioned Ahmadinejad’s handling of the nuclear issue, saying his fiery speeches have riled the West, which has led efforts to impose U.N. sanctions. They say more diplomacy would have been better.
Western capitals accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies. Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer, says it wants to master nuclear technology so it can generate electricity and export more of its oil and gas.
The supreme leader has praised Ahmadinejad’s uncompromising stance in the nuclear row.
(Reporting by Hashem Kalantari; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Michael Winfrey)