Monday, June 20, 2005

Iran vote watchdog says no fraud, run-off to go ahead on Friday

Iran's Guardians Council announced Monday that it had found no evidence of fraud in last week's presidential election, saying a partial recount had confirmed the result of the polls and a run-off would go ahead as scheduled on Friday.

"After complaints... the Guardians Council authorised the interior ministry to recount the ballots from a certain number of boxes. It was clear there was no fraud," the head of the Guardians Council, Ahmad Jannati, said in a statement read on state television. "The vote was sound and the second round will be held on Friday."

The Council, a hardline-controlled political watchdog, agreed to an extremely partial and random recount of ballots cast in a first round of presidential elections after several candidates complained of vote rigging.

Three of the seven candidates who stood in the first round of the election last Friday have complained of irregularities they say were aimed at propelling Tehran's hardline mayor Mahmood Ahmadinejad into a run-off against moderate conservative cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

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