Iran elections strengthen Khamenei, weaken Ahmadinejad
Initial results from Iranian parliamentary elections show Ahmadinejad losing support, while Khamenei gaining strength. Iranian minister says voter turnout at 64%, claims 'Americans, Zionists tried to knock down our regime, but nation slapped them in the face by going to vote'
Initial results from Iran's parliamentary elections suggest that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's camp has been dealt a devastating blow, while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's camp might be gaining a stronger foothold. The shift will most likely bolster Khamenei's status inside the Islamic Republic, though it is not estimated to have a significant effect on the nuclear dispute between Iran and the West.
Iranian Interior Minister Mustafa Muhammad Najjar said voter turnout was as high as 64%, adding that "the great Iranian nation has given its enemies a slap in the face."
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The minister, which was quoted by Iranian television, said that "the Americans, the Zionists and our enemies tried to make claims (against our regime), but the people of Iran slapped them in the face by going to the polls."
Najjar noted that voter turnout in the Tehran District – the country's most important district – reached over 50%. The final results are set to be announced on Monday, the minister added.
Polling station in Iran (Photo: MCT)
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Meanwhile, opposition activists published videos they claimed showed scant presence at polling stations throughout the country. However the videos could not be verified because the authorities prohibited foreign observers to supervise the elections and heavily restricted the movement of foreign reporters during the elections.
Checking the candidate lists (Photo: MCT)
CNN reporter Ivan Watson, who is covering the elections in Tehran, shared his experience at the polling station with the following Twitter post: "This morning first thing we were bused to ten polling stations. It felt like a Potemkin tour. One in north Tehran, a couple in the south, one near the Armenian church, one where Jews would be voting and so on. We needed to get away early to write a piece for morning show, and the Ershad people were very unhappy about that. They said we had to go back to the hotel only and that we weren't allowed to go to any other polling stations. Clearly they were afraid we'd see empty polling stations."
The opposition called to boycott the elections, and harshly criticized former President Muhammad Khatami for ignoring the call and heading to the polling station. Caricatures poking fun at the former president appeared on social media sites alongside slurs calling him a "traitor."
If the final results published in two days will resemble those being reported by Iranian media outlets, Khamenei will mark a great victory, proving that he is the one standing at the helm, squashing the opposition's attempt to bring about a regime change.
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