IRAN PRESEIDENT CANCELS AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT TRIP


Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called off a trip to Libya for an African Union summit on Wednesday that would have given the hardline president another chance to appear at an international forum after his disputed re-election. Mehdi Karoubi, a reformist cleric who came last in the June 12 poll, said he still rejected the result, which set off Iran’s gravest internal unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

“I don’t consider this government legitimate,” he said in a statement on his website. “I will continue my fight.” A spokesman at Ahmadinejad’s office said the Libya visit had been cancelled. He gave no reason. It would have been the president’s second foray abroad since the election. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi later told state television Ahmadinejad was too busy to go.

In a show of confidence, Ahmadinejad attended a regional summit in Russia four days after the vote, ignoring huge street protests by supporters of losing candidates Mirhossein Mousavi and Karoubi, who both say the election was rigged. The Guardian Council, a supervisory body, on Monday endorsed the election result and dismissed complaints of irregularities, saying a partial recount had shown these were baseless.

Karoubi and Mousavi, a moderate former prime minister, have stuck by their demands for the vote to be annulled, in defiance of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has upheld the result and denounced dissenters. Khamenei’s word is final.

SOURCED FROM REUTERS

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