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Ayatollah tells people to respect vote result

SUPREME Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday told all Iranians to respect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory in a presidential election that his closest challenger described as a "dangerous charade.''

Trouble erupted on the streets of Tehran when Ahmadinejad partisans clashed with about 2,000 supporters of former Prime Minister Mirhossein Mousavi who had been staging a protest against the result of Friday's vote.

Khamenei, Iran's top authority, told defeated candidates and their supporters to avoid "provocative behavior" as police with batons moved in to disperse stone-throwing Mousavi supporters from Vanak Square in the capital. Some protesters were arrested and two men were carried away from the scene.

"The chosen and respected president is the president of all the Iranian nation, and everyone, including yesterday's competitors, must unanimously support and help him," Khamenei said in a statement read on state television.

Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli declared that the president had been reelected to a second four-year term with 62.6 percent of the vote, against 33.7 percent for Mousavi, in a record 85 percent turnout.

Mousavi, a veteran of the 1979 Islamic revolution, protested what he said were many obvious election violations.

"I'm warning I will not surrender to this dangerous charade. The result of such performance by some officials will jeopardise the pillars of the Islamic Republic and will establish tyranny," Mousavi said in a statement.

A bitter election campaign generated strong interest around the world and intense excitement inside Iran. It revealed deep divisions among establishment figures between those backing Ahmadinejad and those pushing for social and political change.

Ahmadinejad accused his rivals of undermining the Islamic Republic by advocating detente with the West. Mousavi said the president's "extremist" foreign policy had humiliated Iranians.

The three-week election campaign was marked by mudslinging, with Ahmadinejad accusing his rivals of corruption. They said he was lying about the economy.


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