Ban urges halt to use of force in Iran
UN secretary-general calls on Iranian authorities to respect civil rights in dealing with protests over disputed presidential election results. Ban says in statement he is dismayed by violence, 'particularly the use of force against civilians'. Meanwhile, top Iran body rejects poll annulment demand
A statement issued by Ban's press office said he was dismayed by the post-election violence, "particularly the use of force against civilians."
Demonstrators have been gathering almost daily in Tehran since authorities said incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had easily defeated challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi in the June 12 vote.
Iranian television said 10 people were killed on Saturday and the hardline Revolutionary Guards vowed on Monday to crush resistance by "rioters."
On Tuesday morning, Iran's top legislative body again ruled out any annulment of the presidential election, as demanded by two defeated candidates, state television said.
"Iran's Guardian Council rejects annulment of the June 12 presidential election, saying that there have been no major polling irregularities," the English-language Press TV said.
The report came a day after one of the beaten candidates, pro-reform cleric Mehdi Karoubi, repeated his call for the council to annul the election, which official results showed was won by hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"Instead of wasting time on recounting some ballot boxes ... cancel the vote," Karoubi said in a letter to the council.
Moderate former Prime Minister Mirhossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad's main challenger in the election, has also called for the vote to be annulled, citing irregularities.
The council had made clear before that it would not annul the election, saying last week it was only ready to recount a random 10 percent of the votes cast. The authorities reject opposition charges of vote fraud.
Protest on Tehran streets (Photo: AP)
Official results of the election, released on June 13, sparked the most widespread street protests in Iran since the country's 1979 Islamic revolution.
The defeated candidates have submitted a total of 646 complaints about the election.
'Immediate stop to arrests, threats'
Earlier this week, a Guardian Council spokesman said one common complaint was that the number of votes surpassed eligible voters in some constituencies.
But the spokesman, Abbasali Kadkhodai, said it may have been due to the fact Iranians could vote wherever they wanted and that in any case it would not have had any major impact on the election result.
The council is a 12-man body, six senior clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader and six Islamic jurists, which must ensure all laws agree with Islamic Sharia law and Iran's constitution.
It also vets aspiring candidates for presidential elections and must approve the election results.
Monday's United Nations statement said Ban "calls on the authorities to respect fundamental civil and political rights, especially the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of information."
"He urges an immediate stop to the arrests, threats and use of force," it added.
The statement also said Ban called on the Iranian government and the opposition to resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue and legal means.
The bulk of the statement made clear that Ban, whose only previous statement on the crisis called for the will of the Iranian people to be fully respected, was directing his main criticism at the authorities.