Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 6 in Iran: Protesters defy Khamenei, stage huge "mourning" rally, demand new election

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Most foreign reporters have been kicked out of Iran, but BBC has video of Thursday's protest march in Tehran here.

It's Day 6 in Iran, and the opposition once again defied the regime and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and turned out in force to protest and mourn the deaths of at least seven people killed by pro-government forces. It's clear they are not cowed and not kidding around:

Demonstrators marched silently until they arrived at the square, where some chanted "Death to the dictator!" and "Where are our votes!" witnesses said.

Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi is taking a tough line:

Mousavi and his followers have rejected compromise and pressed their demands for a new election, flouting the will of a man [Khamenei] endowed with virtually limitless powers under Iran's constitution.

The regime appears to be looking for a compromise to tamp down the upheaval, but so far, Mousavi isn't buying:

Trying again to satisfy the protesters' demands, Iran's main electoral authority invited Mousavi and two other candidates who ran against Ahmadinejad to a meeting. Iran's al-Alam Arabic television channel said the three candidates would meet with the Guardian Council on Saturday.

The unelected body of 12 clerics and Islamic law experts close to Khamenei has said it was prepared to conduct a limited recount of ballots at sites where candidates claim irregularities.

Mousavi, who has said he won the vote, charges the Guardian Council is not neutral and supports Ahmadinejad and has demanded an independent investigation and a new election.

Mousavi is not going to waste Friday before the Saturday meeting. He has called on his supporters to use Friday prayers at the mosques to further the protest.

It may be that there will be a compromise of some sort by the end of the weekend, but it's hard to see what it might look like. Mousavi and his supporters can no longer accept the outcome of an election they have repeatedly rejected as a fraud, and Khamenei will permanently undermine his authority if he calls for a new election. An attempt at a violent crackdown is more likely, but we simply don't know any longer to what or to whom the security forces are loyal.

Any thoughts? Post a comment.

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