As I noted yesterday, the protests in Teheran appear to be more than just a temporary vent for disgruntled voters. Clashes broke out again on Sunday.
TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) — Fresh clashes broke out between police and protesters Sunday as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held a victory rally and opposition supporters claimed ballot fraud in Friday’s presidential election.
Ahmadinejad, the hard-line incumbent, defeated reformist rival Mir Hossein Moussavi, a former prime minister, in the election, according to official results.
Backers of Moussavi have been denouncing the results.
On Sunday, a letter that appeared to be written by Moussavi requested that the government annul the contested results. The letter was circulated among Moussavi’s supporters and posted on his campaign Web site, which has published previously confirmed statements from Moussavi.
“I see this as the only solution to restore the public trust and support of the people for their government,” it states.
The letter calls on Iran’s Guardian Council to nullify the results. The Council is a constitutionally mandated body of six clerics and six jurists, which functions as Iran’s electoral authority and has other powers.
Conflicting reports emerged about Moussavi’s location Sunday.
One rumor was that he had been placed under house arrest. There were reports indicating that he had been detained, while others said he was simply at home, conducting meetings, but was free to come and go as long as he informed authorities.
Guards were stationed outside his house, but it was not immediately clear whether they worked for him or the government.
In the streets, riot police fired tear gas and brandished batons to disperse about 100 stone-throwing protesters on Vali Asr Street in central Tehran.
CNN witnessed confrontations in the streets.
“There was this cat-and-mouse game between the rioters and the police,” said Samson Desta, a CNN producer, who was hit by a police baton. “For the time being, it seems like police have things under control. But we spoke to a lot of students and they’re saying, ‘This is not going to go away. They may stop us now but we will come back and make sure our voices will be heard.'”
It was the second day of protests in Tehran. On Saturday, thousands of demonstrators — shouting “Death to the dictatorship” and “We want freedom” — burned police motorcycles, tossed rocks through store windows, and set trash cans on fire.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden expressed doubts Sunday about the validity of Iran’s presidential election, but said it would take more time to analyze the results.
“I have doubts, but withhold comment,” Biden said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.
Biden said the Iranian government has suppressed crowds and limited free speech by shutting down social networking sites such as Facebook, which he said raised questions. He also called the strong showing by incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “unlikely,” based on pre-election analysis.
“Is this the response, is this the accurate response, is this the wish of the Iranian people?” Biden said.
Hamas, the militant Palestinian movement backed by Iran, welcomed the results.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum urged the world to respect Iranian democracy and accept the results of the elections.
Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, which borders Iran, called Ahmadinejad to congratulate him, Karzai’s office said Sunday.
Karzai’s view was that “relations between the two Muslim nations of Afghanistan and Iran expanded during Mr. Ahmadinejad’s first term and hoped that these relations get stronger during his second term,” the statement said.