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Iran gets a bit calmer, but Ahmadinejad opponents vow to keep disputing re-election

TEHRAN, Iran — Opponents of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went on the offensive Wednesday, proclaiming his government "illegitimate." They vowed to continue disputing his re-election despite a violent crackdown on their protests and dire warnings against challenging the vote.

Hours earlier, in a potentially sharp escalation of the rift within the Iranian establishment, the pro-government Basiji militia asked prosecutors to investigate opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi on numerous charges, including "disturbing the nation's security," according to a report by the Fars news agency.

After two weeks of street clashes, Tehran has remained calm over the last several days. Cell phone text-messaging service was restored in a sign of returning normality.

But the latest moves show that the election controversy continues to grip the Islamic Republic despite official attempts to move beyond days of protests and crackdowns.

"From now on we will have a government which, from the point of view of ties with the public, is in the weakest of positions," Mousavi wrote in a statement posted on his Web site and distributed via e-mail. "A majority of society, of which I personally am a member, do not accept the legitimacy of this government." Mousavi lost to Ahmadinejad, according to the official returns.

The Interior Ministry, controlled by a wealthy confidant of Ahmadinejad, ordered that election-related political activities stop now that the Guardian Council, headed by another ally of the president, has confirmed Ahmadinejad's re-election.

Other officials, including the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have also urged an end to questioning of the election, calls which have been stridently ignored.

Iran, meanwhile, risked diplomatic isolation from the European Union as European officials considered withdrawing ambassadors of all 27 member nations in a dispute over the detention of the British Embassy's personnel. Iran arrested nine employees of the embassy in Tehran over the weekend, but said it had released all but one by Wednesday. The EU is Iran's biggest trading partner.

Iran gets a bit calmer, but Ahmadinejad opponents vow to keep disputing re-election 07/01/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 10:37pm]
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