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Rafsanjani wants "fair" review of Iran vote complaints

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a political rival of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called on Sunday for a fair and thorough examination of complaints about this month’s disputed election in Iran.

Iran's former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani speaks during Friday prayers in Tehran, August 22, 2008. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/Files

Breaking a post-election silence, Rafsanjani described developments after the vote as a conspiracy by suspicious elements aimed at dividing people and the Islamic system and also targeting people’s trust in it, news agencies reported.

“Wherever the people entered the scene with full alertness such plots were foiled,” the ISNA and IRNA news agencies quoted him as saying, without elaborating.

Rafsanjani, an influential figure since the founding of the Islamic Republic three decades ago, is seen by analysts as a possible mediator in any effort to defuse the row over the election outcome.

The 75-year-old cleric backed the election campaign of moderate former Prime Minister Mirhossein Mousavi and was fiercely criticised by Ahmadinejad on television.

Official results showed that Ahmadinejad won the June 12 election by a landslide, sparking days of street protests by supporters of Mousavi, who says the vote was rigged and wants it to be annulled.

Rafsanjani praised a decision by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week to extend by five days a deadline for Iran’s top legislative body, the Guardian Council, to receive and look into complaints by the three defeated candidates.

“This valuable move by the Supreme Leader in order to attract the people’s trust towards the election process was very effective,” Rafsanjani told a meeting of families of victims of a 1981 bombing in Tehran that killed many senior officials.

“I hope those who are involved in this issue thoroughly and fairly review and study the legal complaints,” he said.

The Guardian Council is to give its final verdict on the election by Monday. It has repeatedly ruled out annulling the vote, saying it has found no major irregularites.

The 12-member body has offered to re-count 10 percent of ballot boxes in the presence of senior officials representing government and opposition, but Mousavi refused on Saturday to accept such a partial recount.

The disputed vote and its turbulent aftermath have exposed splits in Iran’s political establishment and plunged the country into its deepest crisis since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. State media say 20 people have died in post-election violence.