AFP: The shock presidential election showing by Tehran’s right-wing Mayor Mahmood Ahmadinejad was the result of an elaborate plot to rig the polls, defeated reformist contenders claimed Saturday. “There has been bizarre interference. Money has changed hands,” the centrist-reformist cleric and former parliament speaker Mehdi Karoubi told reporters in an unprecedented allegation.
TEHRAN – The shock presidential election showing by Tehran’s right-wing Mayor Mahmood Ahmadinejad was the result of an elaborate plot to rig the polls, defeated reformist contenders claimed Saturday.
“There has been bizarre interference. Money has changed hands,” the centrist-reformist cleric and former parliament speaker Mehdi Karoubi told reporters in an unprecedented allegation.
“They can go and file a lawsuit against me, but I will give all the names of the people in power in my defence,” he said defiantly.
His claim came as Ahmadinejad, an austere hardliner, bucked predictions and was placed second out of the seven candidates who stood in Friday’s election. He will go into a run-off next Friday against moderate conservative cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Ahmadinejad immediately hit back at Karoubi, who came in third and was therefore ousted from the race, and said the cleric was merely showing sour grapes.
“Those who the people do not chose in an election always have the tendency to complain,” Ahmadinejad told a news conference.
But Karoubi insisted Ahmadinejad’s showing was highly suspicious and appealed to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to “appoint an honest and trusted committee” to probe the Guardians Council — an unelected political watchdog — the interior ministry, the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militia.
“The Guardians Council would have appointed Ahmadinejad without any election,” Karoubi fumed, saying “some people have been denied their rights”.
Ahmadinejad polled 19.25 percent of the vote compared with 21.1 for Rafsanjani.
“I see this election as being rigged,” charged Karoubi, who came in third, with 17.46 percent.
Karoubi also claimed he had “tapes” that implicated Revolutionary Guard commanders, and said some members of the hardline Basij militia had been allowed to vote more than once.
In early counting, the former parliament speaker was placed first, but said “suddenly one of the candidates had one million more votes and the Guardians Council showed up on television and announced this.”
He also pointed to a headline in the prominent right-wing Kayhan newspaper which went to the press late Friday, before the count began, that predicted what looks set to be the result.
“The interior ministry and the Guardians Council are both under accusation,” Karoubi said, labelling the Council as “puppets” of a “network”.
The main reformist candidate, Mostafa Moin, also had a disappointed showing and his camp said they had also noted irregularities.
His spokeswoman, Elaheh Koulai, told a news conference that 300,000 members of Islamist militias had taken part in an operation to influence the vote, which she said had cost 140 billion rials (15.5 million dollars).
She said the operation was aimed at making sure one candidate emerged triumphant in the election and was controlled by the unelected Guardians Council. She did not give further details.
“Take seriously the danger of fascism,” Moin said in a statement. “Such creeping and complex attempts will eventually lead to militarism, authoritarianism as well as social and political suffocation in the country.”
Prior to the election, some reformist government officials had warned mysteriously of a plan by some elements in the Iranian military to interfere in the polls, but gave no details.