Mousavi supporters rally in Iran, mourn dead

Relatives and friends of victims of Monday's violence in Tehran mourn at their graves today at a cemetery just south of Tehran, Iran.<BR><I>AP Photo/Fars News Agency </I>

TEHRAN, Iran - Tens of thousands of black-clad protesters filled the streets of Tehran again today, joining opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi to mourn demonstrators killed in clashes over Iran's disputed election.

Many in the massive crowd wore green wristbands and carried flowers in mourning as they filed into Imam Khomenei Square, a large plaza in the heart of the capital named for the founder of the Islamic Revolution, witnesses said.

Demonstrators marched silently until they arrived at the square, where some chanted "Death to the Dictator!" and "Where are our votes!"

The witnesses spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of government retaliation. Foreign news organizations are barred from reporting on Tehran's streets.

The fourth consecutive day of protests openly defied Iran's supreme leader, who has urged the people to pursue their allegations of election fraud within the limits of the cleric-led system. Mousavi and his followers have rejected compromise and pressed their demands for a new election, flouting the will of a man endowed with virtually limitless powers under Iran's constitution.

Trying again to satisfy the protesters' demands, Iran's main electoral authority invited Mousavi and two other candidates who ran against hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a meeting. Iran's al-Alam Arabic television channel said the three candidates would meet with the Guardian Council on Saturday.

The unelected body of 12 clerics and Islamic law experts close to Khamenei has said it was prepared to conduct a limited recount of ballots at sites where candidates claim irregularities.

Mousavi, who has said he won the vote, charges the Guardian Council is not neutral and supports Ahmadinejad and has demanded an independent investigation and a new election.

The Council's spokesman, Abbasali Khadkhodaei, said today that it received a total of 646 complaints from the three candidates who ran against Ahmadinejad in the June 12 election.

The council provided few other details, but the large number of complaints raised the possibility that even a limited recount could turn into a far larger and messier exercise than the government desires.

The regime has blocked communication channels, such as Web sites and mobile phone networks, to make it more difficult for Mousavi supporters to organize protests. The mobile phone network in Tehran appeared to go down at the start of today's demonstration, as it has intermittently since shortly after the election results were announced. Text messaging has been blocked almost constantly since Friday.

There have been widespread accusations of nighttime attacks on Mousavi supporters by pro-government militiamen, and protesters attacked a militia building after one rally, but both sides have been restrained, with uniformed police and other security forces standing by as protesters march calmly through the streets.

On Monday, hundreds of thousands turned out in a huge procession that recalled the scale of protests during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Seven demonstrators were shot and killed that day by pro-regime militia in the first confirmed deaths during the unrest.

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