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Or maybe not.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad certainly got the most votes. But a couple of things point to the possibility the result may have been, let’s say, adjusted. For the people’s benefit, of course. Because they don’t really know what is best for them.

First, the voter turnout was massively higher than ever before. That in itself doesn’t prove anything. But that almost every one of those additional votes was a vote for Imanutjob does make one wonder. Worthwhile news and debate on this from this New York Times blog.

It is certainly clear that some Iranians feel cheated. Again, there are always some people who feel cheated after any election. But the strength of feeling, and the willingness to protest openly despite the risks, suggests that this is not just a whining minority.

And then, Mousavi’s opposition party claims to have evidence that 10 million votes were counted without the required national identification numers being recorded.

The numbers Imanutjob is claiming show massive support for his repressive and aggressive regime. But if those numbers have been faked, it is possible the tide of popular feeling in Iran is turning against the anti-west, great Satan sentiments of the past.

But with protests being banned, and protestors being beaten and worse, there is still a long a painful road ahead.

The West must not abandon those working for change in Iran.

Update:

In a startling turn of events, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered a formal investigation into allegations of electoral fraud:

The decision has offered hope to opposition forces who have waged street clashes to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

State television quoted him directing a high-level clerical panel, the Guardian Council, to look into charges by pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has said he is the rightful winner of Friday’s presidential election.

Such an election probe by the 12-member council is uncharted territory and it not immediately clear how it would proceed or how long it would take.

Election results must be authorized by the council, composed of clerics closely allied with the unelected supreme leader. All three of Mr Ahmadinejad’s challengers in the election – Mr Mousavi and two others – have made public allegations of fraud after results showed the president winning by a 2-to-1 margin.

‘Issues must be pursued through a legal channel,’ state TV quoted Khamenei as saying. The supreme leader said he has ‘insisted that the Guardian Council carefully probe this letter.’

The day after the election, Khamenei urged the nation to unite behind Mr Ahmadinejad and called the result a ‘divine assessment.’

The results touched off three days of clashes – the worst unrest in Tehran in a decade. Protesters set fires and battled anti-riot police, including a clash overnight at Tehran University after 3,000 students gathered to oppose the election results.

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