Ahmadinejad smiles with lawmakers 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini said Wednesday that the government wouldn't give in to pressures over the disputed presidential election, effectively closing the door to compromise with the opposition.
Khamenei stated in a meeting with lawmakers that: "Neither the system nor the people will give in to pressures at any price."
Reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi's official Web site, Ghalam News, said nonetheless that a protest was planned outside Iran's parliament Wednesday afternoon. It distanced him at the same time, calling the demonstration independent and saying it had not been organized by Mousavi.
Also Wednesday, Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, called on the Iranian government to release those detained at election protests over the past two weeks, according to an update on Mousavi's Web site.
"I regret the detention of politicians and civilians and want their immediate release," she was quoted as saying.
Rahnavard added that "it is my duty to continue legal protests in order to preserve Iranians' rights."
She also called on the government to prevent the presence of armed forces on the streets.
"They do not need to act like a military regime that controls the streets. Any violent action against a civilian is unacceptable."
Meanwhile, Iran said it was considering downgrading ties with Britain, which it has accused of spying and fomenting days of unprecedented street protests over the vote.
The move comes after Prime Minister Gordon Brown criticized Iran on Tuesday for expelling two UK diplomats from Teheran for alleged spying, and announced that two Iranian diplomats were being sent home in retaliation.
Earlier Wednesday, a conservative candidate in Iran's disputed presidential election said that he was withdrawing his complaints about voting fraud for the sake of the country, state television reported.
The announcement by Mohsen Rezaie, a former commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, moved the cleric-led government one step closer to a final declaration of victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. State TV reported that Ahmadinejad would be sworn in sometime between July 26 and Aug. 19.
Iran's supreme leader has said that Ahmadinejad won fairly but the government appears to be moving in stages toward a final declaration, perhaps to avoid provoking a resurgence of protests by backers of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.
A close Mousavi aide told The Associated Press that police had raided offices of a newspaper owned by the candidate and detained 25 editorial employees.
Ali Reza Beheshti said the raid took place Monday evening in central Teheran as editorial members were preparing to relaunch the newspaper, Kalemeh Sabz, or the Green Word. The paper had been absent from newsstands for more than a week.
"Police in uniform raided the office and detained 25 members of the editorial staff," Beheshti said.
Mousavi's supporters claim massive fraud tilted the election and want the vote to be canceled and held again. The final tally gave 62.6 percent of the vote to Ahmadinejad and 33.75 percent to Mousavi, a landslide victory in a race that had been perceived as much closer. Rezaie came in third.
Mousavi has said little and remained out of the public eye as the government flooded the streets of Teheran with police and pro-government militia to deter further protests.
In related news, several Teheran papers reported that some Iranian soccer players were retiring from the national team, fueling speculation the departure was related to green bands the players wore in support of the country's opposition movement.
The flurry of conflicting reports on the fate of the players hails back to the incident last week, when several members on the Iranian team wore green tape on their wrists in a World Cup qualifier against South Korea in Seoul.
Some newspapers said the players are retiring voluntarily, reportedly because of their age, but at least one suggested they were forced out.
On Tuesday, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told The Jerusalem Post that while the Iranian regime would survive the current turmoil in the short-term, the upsurge in civilian opposition "has called into question the rule of the ayatollahs and of the fundamentalist regime."