Fires burned and clashes continued after nightfall in Tehran as tensions ran high over the country’s disputed presidential election. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the runaway winner in what was supposed to have been a tightly fought race, but his closest rival cried foul.
Clashes between opposition supporters and police continued after midnight in the Iranian capital and there were reports of disturbances in other cities across the country. In a televised address to the nation, Ahmadinejad dismissed accusations of vote rigging and fraud and declared the election had been “free and healthy”. The scale of the president’s win surprised many – the ultra conservative was officially re-elected with nearly 63 percent of the vote. His nearest rival, the moderate former prime minister Mirhossein Mousavi, used his web site to call for calm among his followers. They have reacted in anger and disbelief at his low 34 percent vote share. He has described the poll as a “dangerous charade”, but Iran’s supreme leader has given his backing to Ahmadinejad.