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Iranian Election: Was Mousavi Told That He Had Won?

June 15, 2009

In the Economist’s coverage of the election and protests in Iran, a stunning claim by the defeated candidate:

Mr Mousavi claimed that he was told that he had won the election late on Friday, the day of voting, only to be greeted on Saturday morning with news of Mr Ahmadinejad’s official victory. Although Mr Ahmadinejad undoubtedly continues to enjoy considerable support, for example among conservatives and rural voters, the claimed scale of his triumph is unconvincing. It looks doubtful, for example, that Mr Mousavi and a fellow candidate, Mehdi Karoubi, would have received the few votes that were recorded in their respective home provinces. Mr Mousavi and Mohsen Rezai, another of Mr Ahmadinejad’s challengers, have lodged an official complaint about the results to the Council of Guardians, an unelected but powerful group of clerics that was supposed to oversee the polls.

I’d not heard this claim before and I hope Mousavi remains dignified and is not making claims only because he believes his supporters will want to hear them. If the claim is true, it is significant evidence of fraud that undermines any remaining legitimacy that Ahmadinejad has. If it is not true–and Mousavi has made a false claim–then his moral authority, at least, has taken a hit at a time when his supporters need him to remain beyond criticism.

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