WASHINGTON – The Iranian government’s electoral watchdog Monday confirmed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s landslide victory in the disputed June 12 presidential election after police wielding batons and cables prevented more than a thousand demonstrators from organizing a rally to protest the results.
The announcement effectively ended any possibility that regime would grant demands for a new vote by second-place finisher Mir Hossein Mousavi.
The decision of the 12-member Guardian Council, whose chairman endorsed Ahmadinejad, found no evidence in a random recount of 10 percent of the 40 million ballots cast to sustain charges of massive fraud, state television said.
The official results gave Ahmadinejad more than 63 percent of the vote.
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters the Guardian Council’s limited recount wouldn’t dispel a widespread belief the election was fixed.
“Obviously, they have a huge credibility gap with their own people as to the election process,” she said.
Clinton sidestepped a question about whether the U.S. recognized Ahmadinejad’s victory, saying, “We’re going to take this a day at a time. We’re going to watch and carefully assess what we see happening.”
State television reported on Monday that authorities had released five of nine Iranian employees of the British Embassy. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Monday for the release of the four remaining detainees, calling Iran’s action “unacceptable, unjustified and without foundation.”
The regime also pressed efforts aimed at persuading Iranians security forces weren’t responsible for the killing of protesters.
State media reported Ahmadinejad asked the judiciary to investigate the “suspicious” killing of Neda Agha Soltan, the 26-year-old woman who became an opposition icon after her shooting death during a June 20 demonstration was captured on a video posted on the Internet.
Witnesses blamed her death on a Basij member; Iranian officials have accused the CIA and the British Broadcasting Corp. of arranging the shooting.