iran election protests great 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Iran's Islamic leadership is prepared to conduct a limited recount of disputed presidential elections, a spokesman said Tuesday, as thousands of people took to the streets to show support for the regime and authorities cracked down on independent media, barring journalists working for foreign networks from reporting on the streets.
The announcement comes after Iran's state radio reported earlier Tuesday that seven people were killed during clashes in the Iranian capital the previous day - the first official confirmation of deaths linked to the wave of protests and street battles following the disputed election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner.
In downtown Teheran, thousands of people gathered Tuesday in a state-organized rally that Iran's state media said was designed to demand punishment for the rioters from Monday's clashes. While there had been reports earlier of another rally Tuesday of supporters of reformist challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi, possibly setting the stage for violent clashes, Mousavi, in a message posted on his Web site, said he would not be attending any rally and asked his supporters to "not fall in the trap of street riots" and "exercise self-restraint."
After images were shown around the world of mass protests and violence following the disputed election, the government on Tuesday cracked down on journalists.
Authorities restricted journalists, including Iranians working for foreign media from reporting on the streets, and said they could only work from their offices, conducting telephone interviews and monitoring official sources such as state television.
The rules prevent media outlets, including The Associated Press, from sending independent photos or video of street protests or rallies.
Also Tuesday, foreign reporters in Iran to cover last week's elections began leaving the country. Iranian officials said they will not extend their visas.
A spokesman for the Guardian Council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, was quoted on state television as saying the recount would be limited to voting sites where candidates claim irregularities took place. He did not rule out the possibility of canceling the results, saying that is within the council's powers, although nullifying an election would be an unprecedented step.
There was no immediate word from Mousavi on the announcement, but he said Monday he was not hopeful that the council would address his charges because he believes they are not neutral and have already indicated support for Ahmadinejad. On Tuesday Mousavi has made a public plea to his supporters asking them to avoid protesting for fear for their lives, Iranian news services reported.
The 12-member Guardian Council includes clerics and experts in Islamic law. Its role includes certifying election results.