Iran Election Guide

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Remember Iran Flashback: 15 June 2009 --- The March of the Millions

EA's Live Coverage three years ago today --- the world is taken by surprise as more than a million Iranians, joined by Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, take to the streets of Tehran to challenge Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's supposed election. However, there are signs that the regime will defy the protesters and confirm Ahmadinejad's "victory", and there is ominous news of more detentions and deaths of demonstrators at the end of the evening:

2230 GMT: The end of a long and, for many, amazing day in Iran with the hopes of the mass movement balanced by rumours of deaths, beatings, and detentions (one activist writes of many people being taken to Evin Prison). Still a state of tension, with uncertainty over casualty figures from this afternoon at Azadi Square and no firm confirmation of the big march for 5 p.m. tomorrow (local time) in Tehran. Tonight, there are sounds of ambulances and police sirens and occasional gunshots.

We're going to take an overnight break. Thanks to all who have supported us and given us information today. Our thoughts are with friends and colleagues in Iran.

2100 GMT: Channel 4's Lindsey Hilsum's blog has footage of paramilitaries shooting at protestors. Her blog post is here, a larger video is available here.

1930 GMT: We have learned that Tehran's Central Bazaar will be on strike tomorrow. Tonight people are cruising in automobiles through Tehran, honking their horns, but there is also a military presence and the prospect of further attacks.

Evening Update (1915 GMT): The elation over the success of the Tehran march, with a peaceful crowd in the hundreds of thousands, has been tempered by the shooting in Azadi Square.The firing appears to have broken out near a Basiji (paramilitary militia) headquarters.

News services are still confirming only one dead, but there are very disturbing images of dead and wounded allegedly attacked at Azadi. There is also nervousness over reports of clashes in other Iranian cities.

The high hopes over the address of Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi to the Azadi crowd has been offset by a lull in political developments. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has allowed state media to make all the noise after his letter to the Guardian Council for an enquiry into vote fraud, and President Ahmadinejad has suddenly gone noticeably (and uncharacteristically) silent.

There are reports, despite the claim by CNN's Octavia Nasr of a Khamenei-Mousavi deal for no more demonstrations (see 1535), of a march called for tomorrow at 5 p.m. local time in the main thoroughfare of Vali Asr Street.

1735 GMT: Rumours are still swirling about the shooting in Azadi Square. Some claim four demonstrators were killed with "many more" wounded; others claim that the assailant, a Basiji (unofficial "religious" police), was then beaten to death by the crowd. There is also an unconfirmed report of gunfire in three districts in north Tehran.

French media put the number at the rally at up to 2 million.

1705 GMT: Press TV reports that one demonstrator killed by gunfire in Azadi Square.

1700 GMT: An administrator for Mousavi's Facebook page explains the rationale behind the two slogans that they are promoting for the night rooftop protests as well as tomorrow's marches (possibly at Khomeini Shrine). The first is "allah-o-akbar" (God is Great) and the second "la-allah-a-ela-allah" (There is no God but God). These overtly religious slogans symbolise that there is no authority higher than God; tactically, they are not "questionable", by any standard measurement in Iran, and thus cannot easily provoke retaliation.

1625 GMT: Iranian activists claim to have hacked the news sites of the ultra-conservative Kayhan and
Rajanews, which have been vocal supporters of Ahmadinejad. As of now is still down but is just about running.

1600 GMT: Another sign of Government re-alignment in the face of the demonstrations: Press TV reports Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani has appointed a committee, headed by the Deputy Speaker, to investigate "unpleasant incidents" such as the security forces' raid on the dormitories of Tehran University, and compile a "complete and impartial report". Members of the Iranian Parliament, the Majlis, who toured the dormitories have called for the release of students detained in the raids.

1535 GMT: CNN's Octavia Nasr claims on Twitter: "Deal was reached to investigate fraud allegations & Moussavi halts futher demos."

1515 GMT: In the US, leading blogger Andrew Sullivan has picked up on our analysis of how Press TV's new approach to the protests may reveal a high-level political shift, in particular in the Supreme Leader's position.

1510 GMT: CNN now leading with Iran rally, showing footage of Mousavi addressing crowd.

1500 GMT: Press TV is now clearly following a shift in the Supreme Leader's political position. Their sympathetic coverage of the rally continues, followed by a reference by Khamenei's call on the Guardian Council to review electoral results in "a meeting with Mousavi on Sunday evening" in which he encouraged the candidate "to pursue his complaints about the election through legal means".

Press TV emphasized that Khamenei "urged restraint and called on Mousavi to be careful about the enemy squad and provocation". The Supreme Leader's letter to the Guardian Council "was an effort to restore people's support and trust in their government".

The state-run outlet is even reporting on the European Union's statement of concern over the election results, as well France and Germany's summoning of Iranian Ambassadors to express their worries.

1425 GMT: Mousavi, speaking from the rooftop of a car, has addressed the rally, saying he is ready to stand in a new election. Former President Khatami has called for the election to be declared void.

CNN has caught up a bit, despite technical problems, with Christiane Amanpour reporting from the rally.

1330 GMT: Press TV is breaking into normal programmes to show live images of crowds completely filling Enqelab Square in Tehran. The studio has lost contact with the correspondent in the crowd, but the anchorman is offering a full report, noting the banners "Where is My Vote?" and the claims of opposition candidates that the election results were "rigged".

In Britain, Press TV is the only outlet broadcasting on the rally. At the moment, there is nothing on SkyNews (which has provided some updates), BBC, CNN, Fox, or even Al Jazeera.

1320 GMT: CNN reporting that Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, assured Mousavi of a fair investigation at a meeting yesterday. The Guardian Council's report is expected within 10 days, establishing a potential cooling off period. The Council is chaired by Ayatollah Jannati, a hardline conservative said to be a strong supporter of the President.

1310 GMT:  Press TV reporting that Mousavi has appeared before hundreds of thousands of supporters in Tehran.

1300 GMT: The official tally of the Presidential votes adds insult to injury for Rafsanjani. According to Jahan News, Ahmadinejad received 1122 votes in the village of Bahreman – Rafsanjani’s birthplace - while only 730 voted for Mousavi.

1250 GMT: Just to bring home the significance of the previous item, Press TV is state-owned media. Until this morning, it has given almost no attention to the protests against Ahmadinejad's election. The sudden change to in-depth, even effusive coverage of the demonstrations points to a wider political shift: whether this is in line with a "compromise" accepting the legitimacy of the claims of the protests (and, beyond that, the appeal to the Guardian Council) remains to be seen.

1235 GMT: Press TV is now reporting on "hundreds of thousands" in today's rally from Enqelab Square to Azadi Square, protesting the outcome of the Iranian election. The gathering is in defiance of the Ministry of Interior's refusal to give a permit. So far, based on video and on the correspondent's report, the rally appears to be peaceful and calm.

1120 GMT: BBC Persian report that Mousavi, Karroubi, and former President Mohammad Khatami will attend today's protest, an indication that earlier attempts to abandon the march stemmed either from confusion or Government misinformation.

1037 GMT: Chris Emery reminds us in the context of former President Rafsanjani's letter to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameini, asking for a review of the election results: a pre-election Rafsanjani letter asking for investigation of "insults to the Islamic Republic" by Ahmadinejad, was supported by more than 100 senior clerics from Qom.

This clerical opposition to Ahmadinejad should be noted as an ongoing factor in the manoeuvres amongst the Supreme Leader, Ahmadinejad, Mousavi-Karroubi, and Rafsanjani.

1018 GMT: Confusion over whether Mousavi headquarters have now "un-cancelled" the call for this afternoon's march, with some activists saying Mousavi and Karroubi will attend and others claiming that Mousavi's website --- which cancelled and then retracted the cancellation --- may have been taken over by people hostile to the demonstrations.

Suspicions of a "trap" have been further fuelled by reports of Government gun emplacements at Azadi Square, the endpoint of the march.

0920 GMT: A possible important turn of events. State media are reporting that the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, did meet with Mir Hossein Mousavi. The Supreme Leader is now ordering an investigation of allegations of electoral fraud.

0850 GMT: Reports that this afternoon's march in Tehran will go ahead, despite refusal of permit by Ministry of Interior and possible withdrawal of support from Mousavi headquarters.

0803 GMT: The website for the Mousavi campaign has just announced the cancellation of today's march.

0800 GMT: Reuters reports, "Iran's top legislative body, the Guardian Council, said on Monday it had received two official complaints from defeated presidential candidates and would issue its ruling within 10 days." The complaints came from candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohsen Rezaei; there is no mention of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani (see 0515 GMT update).

A spokesman for the council, which must formally approve the election results for the outcome to stand, said it had received appeals from moderate former prime minister Mirhossein Mousavi and former head of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezaie.

0745 GMT: According to CNN, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency is reporting a further endorsement by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, of the election's outcome: "Pointing to enemies' massive propaganda campaign to discourage people from taking part in the elections, Ayatollah Khamenei also said there was really a divine miracle behind this elections, given its results that was 10 million higher than any of the previous ones in the 30-year history of elections in Iran." (Note: It appears that IRNA's website is either overloaded or has crashed.)

Khamenei's statement should be seen as a response to the move by former President Rafsanjani, appealing to the Guardian Council, to void the election results (see 0515 GMT update).

0725 GMT: Twitter accounts such as Change For Iran are posting photographs of students who were reportedly beaten at Isfahan University when security forces entered dormitories.

0615 GMT: Iranian media report that the Ministry of the Interior has denied the permit for this afternoon's march.

Morning Update (0515 GMT): Two potentially important events are likely to dominate the day's developments. The first is the appeal, led by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani (pictured), to Iran's Guardian Council  The Guardian Council is Iran's political and legal body of last resort, and under Iranian law, it must ratify the declared election results.

There is a wider significance in Rafsanjani's appeal, however. The Guardian Council is the only authority that can remove the Supreme Leader. So this is a challenge by a former President, who has backed challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi against President Ahmadinejad, to Ayatollah Khamenei, who moved quickly to endorse Ahmadinejad's victory.

The second event occurs this afternoon at 4 p.m. local time (1130 GMT) with a march, organised by Mousavi headquarters, in Tehran. There are conflicting reports on whether the Ministry of Interior has approved the march, let alone allowed Mousavi to speak, and whether the challenger's headquarters will call for it to go ahead if it is not legally permitted.

The overnight news is mainly of individual stories of clashes and beatings. It is almost impossible, given the restrictions on media and on phone and Internet service, to get a co-ordinated view of events, especially outside Tehran. CNN, for example, has to go with an account by "an eyewitness" of the beating of a man by security forces after he tried to protect a 14-year-old girl.

Twitter is still the best channel for news, but this is fragmented and hard to verify. Indications are that some of the most serious clashes are occurring at universities in Tehran and other cities. There are rumours of numerous casualties at hospitals and of arrests of senior politicians such as former President Mohammad Khatami.

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