[JURIST] Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei [official profile; BBC profile] granted a request Wednesday to allow opposition candidates five additional days to submit complaints about the contested presidential election [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in Iran. The Guardian Council for the Constitution [official website, in Persian] made the request to allow complaints after recently rejecting [BBC report] protesters' requests for a re-election. Although Khamenei will hear the candidates' grievances, he told legislators Wednesday that the government will not succumb to pressure [AP report] over the election results. He called for the protests to stop and accused foreign powers of perpetuating the dispute. State media reported that conservative candidate Mohsen Rezaie withdrew his complaints of voting fraud Wednesday, maintaining that he did so for the sake of the country. After recently conducting an investigation [JURIST report] into the election results, the Guardian Council asserted that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] won the election by such an overwhelming majority that any minor inconsistencies would not have resulted in victory for reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi [IranTracker profile]. Khamenei has also maintained that the results were not manipulated or subjected to voter fraud.
Mousavi supporters protested in Tehran and elsewhere after Ahmadinejad's victory, reportedly resulting in at least 17 deaths and hundreds of arrests [JURIST report]. Authorities stated that those arrested would be dealt with [Reuters report] by the court system. Following the Guardian Council's investigation, they conceded that the number of votes exceeded the number of voters in 50 voting districts but explained that the discrepancy could be due to voters' ability to vote anywhere in the country. Human rights groups have viewed the arrests as political repression [JURIST report], saying that Iranian forces are using the protests to "engage in what appears to be a major purge of reform-oriented individuals." Amnesty International [advocacy website] called for authorities to respect and nurture debate Thursday, stressing [press release] that "healthy debate on issues of fundamental importance to peoples' lives" informs, rather than threatens, policy makers."