By BosNewsLife Middle East Service

Former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi has claimed victory in Friday's election.

TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has lost the presidential election, his challenger said, a development that was expected to be welcomed by Christians seeking more religious rights and the United States, where President Barack Obama seeks new relations with the strict Islamic nation.

Ahmadinejad’s main rival, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi,  claimed victory after a close aid said he had received some 65 percent of the ballots.

Some Iranian Christians have described Mousavi as a “reformer” who they hope will end a reported ongoing crackdown on Christian converts, including many former Muslims.

Ahead of the ballot, the “climate seriously worsened” for minority Christians, as part of Ahmadinejad’s efforts to gain votes from mainly Muslim voters, said Netherlands-based aid and advocacy group Open Doors, which supports Christians reportedly persecuted for their faith in Iran and other countries.


Dozens of Christians, including many former Muslims have been detained ahead of the ballot, Open Doors and other sources said. The whereabouts remain unknown of at least five Christians arrested last month during a raid on a house church, Christians said.

The tactic apparently didn’t work, but it was not immediately clear what the perceived reformer Mousavi would do to end the reported crackdown.  Talking to reporters Friday, June 12, Mousavi said he was the “definite winner” in Iran’s presidential election. “I am the definite winner of this presidential election,” he told a news conference in Tehran.

He suggested that the election has been overshadowed by news that voters had not been able to cast their ballots even after voting was extended by four hours.  Besides Christians and other, religious, minorities, Washington was closely monitoring the ballot as Mousavi, 67, advocates better ties with Iran’s Western foes.

He has promised to change the “extremist” image that Iran earned abroad under Ahmadinejad and has hit out at his profligate spending of petrodollars and cash handouts to the poor, which he says have stoked rising consumer prices. Mousavi says he would seek detente with the West, curb inflation and create jobs if elected.


However Israeli Defense officials cautioned in remarks published  by the Jerusalem Post news paper that they did not expect Iran to halt its nuclear program, something the United States views as a key condition for better relations with the West . Mousavi has rejected demands to halt uranium enrichment, the most sensitive element of Iran’s nuclear program.

Analysts also say that the former prime minister during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, has  urged a return to the “fundamental values” of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

However while he favoured a big role for the state in Iran’s war-time economy, he reportedly now advocates ecomomic liberalisation. He says he would control inflation through monetary policies and would also make life easier for private business.

The bespectacled, bearded Mousavi enjoys the support of reformist former President Mohammad Khatami and apparent backing from Khatami’s pragmatic predecessor, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, Reuters news agency reported.

Mousavi broke new ground in Iranian politics by having his wife Zahra Rahnavard actively campaigning for him. The couple even held hands at rallies, rare public behaviour for politicians in the socially conservative, mainly Shi’ite state, observers said. (With reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos and Eric Leijenaar).

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