Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Says Iran Will Not Bow to Imperialist Pressure; Minister Accuses CIA of Funding "Rioters"

Khamenei says Iran will not bow to pressure

By Roula Khalaf in Tehran
June 24 2009 07:52

Four footballers who wore green armbands during a World Cup qualifier have been banned from Iran’s national team

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, told parliamentarians on Wednesday that the regime would not bow to pressure over the presidential election, calling on MPs to co-operate with the government of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad.

”We would not take one step beyond the law ... neither the system nor the people will not go under pressure at any price,” he said.

Amid apparent concerns that MPs could be encouraged to disrupt the work of a government born out of disputed elections, the supreme leader said ”the government should be helped” in its endeavours.

The leader’s comments came as Mohsen Rezaei the conservative candidate in the June 12 presidential election, withdrew his complaint over the results of the vote, citing the “sensitive political security and political situation” in the country”, state media reported.

The move reflects pressure from the regime to undermine claims of vote rigging issued by candidates who ran against Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the radical incumbent and declared winner.

Meanwhile, the pro-government newspaper Iran Daily on Wednesday said four of the six footballers who wore green wristbands in support of the opposition campaign while playing for the national side during a World Cup qualifier in Seoul last week had been retired from the national team.

The government of Iran was quiet for a second consecutive day on Wednesday, after a security crackdown disrupted the opposition’s ability to organise street rallies. Opposition members say they are planning to mourn victims of the unrest on Thursday, but the regime has warned it will crack down harshly on any further gatherings.

Mr Rezaei was the only conservative candidate in the election, other than Mr Ahmadi-Nejad. He had joined the other two reformist challengers in charging that the vote had been massively manipulated. Unlike them, however, he was demanding a recount of ballot boxes, rather than a rerun of the vote.

The attempts to restrain criticism of the election coincides with fresh arrests of reformists. Local media reported that 25 members of staff of Kalemeh Sabz, one of the newspapers of Mir-Hossein Moussavi, the main opposition candidate, had been arrested on Monday, after an order from the Tehran prosecutor general. The newspaper had already been banned by the authorities just after the election.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

Iran minister says CIA funding "rioters": report

Wed Jun 24, 2009 7:22am EDT

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's interior minister on Wednesday accused U.S. spy agency the CIA of helping to fund "rioters," stepping up accusations of Western involvement in street unrest following the country's disputed election.

"Britain, America and the Zionist regime (Israel) were behind the recent unrest in Tehran," Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars News Agency.

"Many of the rioters were in contact with America, CIA and the MKO and are being fed by their financial resources," he said. The MKO (Mujahideen Khalq Organization) is an exiled Iranian opposition group.

(Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian and Hossein Jaseb; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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