Monday, June 15, 2009

Ahmadinejad calls Iran vote ‘clean and healthy’

Updated on Monday, June 15, 2009

TEHRAN: Tens of thousands of flag-waving Ahmadinejad supporters converged on the capital's Vali-e Asr square ahead of a victory speech by the man who won Friday's vote by a thumping majority.

Ahmadinejad consigned Iran's nuclear dispute to the past, signalling no nuclear policy change in his second term, and warned that any country that attacked his own would regret it.

"Who dares to attack Iran? Who even dares to think about it?" he said at a news conference. Iran's refusal to halt nuclear work the West suspects is aimed at making bombs, a charge Tehran denies, has sparked talk of possible U.S. or Israeli strikes on its nuclear sites.

Ahmadinejad described the election as "clean and healthy", dismissing complaints by defeated candidates as sour grapes.

"They may be upset by their failure," he said. "They spent a lot of money to make propaganda (and) expected to win, so it is natural they are disappointed and upset."

A sea of thousands of supporters Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flooded into streets of Tehran on Sunday for a rally addressed by the re-elected Iranian president.

The massive crowds of men and women waving Iranian flags and portraits of Ahmadinejad packed central Tehran to listen to the president who won a second four-year term in a landslide election victory on Friday.

Cheers broke out as Ahmadinejad opened his speech by paying tribute to the Iranian people and his supporters.

Ahmadinejad’s overwhelming victory and its violent aftermath raised fresh questions about how Iran will respond to U.S. President Barack Obama's diplomatic overtures.

Analysts said the election result would disappoint Western powers trying to convince the world's fifth biggest oil exporter to halt sensitive nuclear work. Obama has urged Iran's leadership "to unclench its fist" for a new start in relations.

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