By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
(ADDS DETAINED ACTIVISTS, CHANGING LEAD)
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– At least 10 reformists were detained before dawn Sunday, June 14, hours after Iranian officials said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected in a landslide victory, the Voice of America (VOA) network reported.
A tense calm returned early Sunday, June 14, to the streets of Tehran where protesters clashed with police following the announcement by Iran’s interior minister, Sadeq Mahsouli, that Ahmadinejad had won 62.6 percent of the vote. That was twice the number of votes as his closest rival, reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who received 33.75 percent, officials said.
Mousavi alleged the vote was marred by serious vote irregularities, and thousands of his supporters marched in the streets of Tehran. Some hurled rocks at police, who used batons to beat back the demonstrators, VOA said.
Videos received by employees of VOA’s Persian News Network on their personal accounts on the social networking site Facebook show thousands of opposition supporters marching in the streets of Tehran, the network said.
In his victory address, President Ahmadinejad declared the vote was completely “free,” saying the people voted for his policies.
Analysts said they were surprised as they predicted a tight race between the incumbent president and former Prime Minister Mousavi.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, welcomed the results saying the high voter turnout -at more than 80 percent – and the 24 million votes cast for Ahmadinejad are a “real celebration.”
Ahmadinejad’s rivals have accused him of badly mismanaging the economy and tarnishing Iran’s image, further isolating the country from the West. The news was also expected to lead to concerns among the country’s Christian minority, including former Muslims who converted to Christianity.
Dozens of people have been detained, and at least five Christians remain missing, said Christian advocacy groups.
Israel also expressed concerns, saying it could further complicate talks on Iran’s nuclear program, amid fears the Islamic nation is building a nuclear weapon. Tehran says its program is for peaceful purposes.
“The problem Iran poses to the international community is not of a personal nature, but rather is derived from its policies,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement.
United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she hoped the outcome reflects the “genuine will and desire” of Iranian voters.
Clinton spoke at an event in Niagara Falls, Ontario, with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, who said his country also was “deeply concerned” by reports of irregularities, The Associated Press news agency reported.
Hadi Ghaemi, spokesman for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, denounced the outcome as “a Tehran Tiananmen” — a reference to China’s brutal 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists — and urged the international community not to recognize the result.