TEHRAN: Defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi hit back on Saturday at a speech by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in which the supreme leader ruled out any fraud in last week's election. In a statement posted on his newspaper website, Mousavi said his demand for the annulment of the election was an undeniable right and vowed to side with the Iranian people in defending their rights. "If this huge volume of cheating and changing the votes... which has hurt people's trust is presented as the very evidence of the lack of cheating, then it will butcher the republican aspect of the system and the idea that Islam is incompatible with a republic will be proven," Mousavi said. The strong criticism headlined "the fifth statement of Mir Hossein Mousavi to the Iranian people: don't allow lies and cheaters to steal the flag of defending the Islamic system from you" was briefly pulled from the website but later reposted. In his first public appearance since the disputed election, Khamenei on Friday ruled out any fraud in the June 12 vote and stressed there could be no doubting the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad. "The people have chosen whom they wanted," Khamenei said in a sermon at the main weekly Muslim prayers." "The legal mechanisms in our country do not allow cheating. How can one cheat with a margin of 11 million votes?" the supreme leader asked. Mousavi insisted that the people's votes be protected, warning of dire consequences if they were not. "If the people's trust is not matched by protecting their votes or if they are not able to defend their rights in a civil peaceful reaction, there will be dangerous ways ahead," Mousavi said in the statement. He said any repercussions would be "on those who cannot tolerate peaceful behaviour." Mousavi, who was Ahmadinejad's main challenger for the presidency, said he "strongly" believed the official results of the election should be cancelled. He said his demand "should be examined by a reliable committee. The possibility that it can yield a good result must not be dismissed prematurely," he added.
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