Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has
called for an end to street protests, saying there was a "definitive victory" in
the disputed presidential election that has triggered the worst unrest in Iran
in three decades.
In his first address to the nation since the June 12 vote, Ayatollah Khamenei said Iranians had chosen the one they found the most appropriate to serve, with incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning 63-percent of the vote.
He disputed allegations of vote rigging, saying an 11-million vote margin of victory for the incumbent president indicates there was no fraud. The supreme leader also attacked what he called interference by foreign powers which had questioned the election outcome.
The televised address follows nearly a week of massive protests by supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who contested election results, alleging the vote was rigged.
Ayatollah Khamenei appealed for calm Friday and said the opposition will be held responsible for any violence.
At least seven protesters have been killed by pro-government militia, and several opposition members, activists and journalists have been arrested in recent days.
United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay issued a statement Friday, expressing concerns about the arrests. Pillay warned that illegal acts by militia and security forces "could provoke a serious deterioration in the security situation."
Thursday, Mr. Mousavi addressed tens of thousands of his supporters in Tehran and called for calm and restraint.
Ayatollah Khamenei also said any doubts about the outcome of the election must be investigated through legal channels.
Iran's Council of Guardians, a powerful body that supervises the elections, has invited Mr. Mousavi and two other defeated presidential candidates (Mohsen Rezaei and Mehdi Karroubi) to a meeting Saturday to discuss their concerns. The Council has offered to conduct a partial recount of the vote, and a spokesman for the body says it has begun examining 646 complaints of irregularities.
Video of the protests obtained by VOA's Persian News Network can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/pnnvideo.
You also can follow PNN's Twitter feed in Farsi: http://twitter.com/VOAIran
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP