Iran General NewsIran opposition leaders demand to speak on TV

Iran opposition leaders demand to speak on TV

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ImageAFP: Iranian opposition leaders have demanded they be given time to speak on state television to back up their allegations that the June election was rigged, a reformist daily reported on Monday. By Farhad Pouladi

ImageTEHRAN (AFP) — Iranian opposition leaders have demanded they be given time to speak on state television to back up their allegations that the June election was rigged, a reformist daily reported on Monday.

Former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and cleric Mehdi Karroubi met at the weekend and decided they want to go on television to challenge the authorities who say they have no evidence to back claims the poll was fraudulent, the newspaper said.

The reformist Sarmayeh newspaper also quoted Mousavi as saying that Iranian officials were giving "wrong" data to the people about the post-vote unrest which rocked the country.

"Look how many times the number of the killed has been changed. They say that fraud in the election is a lie. Some gathered to say that there was no fraud… okay, then if you are so sure then why are you afraid of us appearing on television?" Mousavi said during his meeting with Karroubi, the report said.

"Why do you not open the ballot boxes on a live television show, so people can see how many ballot papers without serial numbers are in the boxes?"

Mousavi was the main challenger to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the June 12 poll, which returned the hardline president to office for a second term.

The opposition leader has continued to claim that the election result was massively rigged in Ahmadinejad's favour.

Karroubi too voiced similar concerns during the meeting, Sarmayeh said.

"Some talk about the election as if nothing has happened, nothing occurred," he said.

"You think people do not know what has happened to them? Then why these protests? They are saying I had only 300,000 votes and I did not have a single vote in 10,000 ballot boxes, which means I did not have a single supporter," said the reformist cleric, whose official tally plunged from more than 17 percent in the 2005 presidential election to less than one percent this year.

"If you are telling the truth, then instead of denying the fraud in the state media (television) and putting pressure on innocent prisoners for confessions, they should allow us to come on television and give to the people our evidence" supporting the claims.

Karroubi has previously alleged that several male and female protesters rounded up for joining protests against the election result were raped in prisons.

Iranian officials have dismissed these allegations.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians poured onto the streets of Tehran after the election result was announced to protest Ahmadinejad's victory.

In the unrest which followed 36 people were killed, say Iranian officials. Opposition groups say 72 died.

On Sunday, reformist former president Mohammad Khatami said the protests which followed the election will continue.

"If we go along with people's demand, we will reach our goals quicker and in a less costly manner. But if not, this (protest) movement will continue but costlier. In any case this movement will not die," he added.

Khatami, who was president from 1997 to 2005, joined forces with the opposition leaders Mousavi and Karroubi.

Khatami said the situation in Iran was not a struggle between conservatives and reformists, but that "a narrow-minded, violent … and mistrusting current … wants to get rid of those whom it dislikes."

"This current must know that it can't forcibly rule people with military and police methods," he said.

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