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CNN BREAKING NEWS
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Declared Presidential Victory in Iran
Aired June 13, 2009 - 13:34 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. We want to take you straight to Tehran. You see right there on the right-hand of your screen, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared a victor in this past election. Here now is his response.
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MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): Hope inspired hope for all nations and we created pride, they are a source of pride in the whole nation and the ill wishers. The elections in Iran are really important. Election means consensus of all people's resolve and their crystallization of their demands and their wants and it's a leap toward high peaks of aspiration and progress. Elections in Iran are totally popular based move that belongs to the people with a look at the future aimed at constructing the future.
This vote has been a great ordeal, although in the past there have been some elections great elections that made destiny, but this election was held at a juncture of history, one the world is on the verge of and new election, frontiers in the world of demarcations and political and economic fronts are being changed and taking new shapes, assuming new shapes, the eyes of the world are cast on the people of Iran. There were two ways in front of the Iranian people; one was returning to the past and the second way ahead was a look toward the future and peaks of high aspirations which means the continuation of the path of today's path of the Iranian people which leads to success and pride.
The great nation of Iran chose a way to the future, the way of vigilance and life. This is a great victory at a time and condition when the whole material, political and propaganda facilities outside of Iran sometimes in parts of Iran were totally mobilized of our people and dealt the heaviest pressure and psychological warfare was organized against the people of Iran. A large number of foreign international media continuously and in very complicated ways embarked on doing things against our people and the organized of full-fledged fight against our people.
Our people with full vigilance made their choice, a great choice, through historic and epic making presence; nearly 40 million people took part in a total of free election which means in itself this sets a record by itself. A great record into all of the world. It shows the path to the future, the path of dignity and pride. It's clear a great nation, has great capacities as well. And this people will have great achievements. This vote is among the great achievements of the Iranian people and, of course, a prelude to bigger strides. A new era has been ushered in in the Iranian history.
Great opportunities are -- were put at the disposal of the Iranian people. A bright future, a future with construction and dignity, a future which is a source of pride in front of our people is there. We're trading on a new -- treading on a new path, although a continuation of the previous path, still it's on a higher level and has a look at a more extensive horizon with a greater momentum. I would like to extend my appreciation to all people, people from all different walks of life, from farmers, laborers, industrialists, academia, teachers, artists, media and everyone, workers and university students, the youth, the brave clerics who are forerunners of the Iranian people, I thank all who have created this great epic, all those who voted for me or those who voted for other candidates.
All contributed to creation of this great event and I sincerely thank all of them. I also appreciate the leader of the Islamic revolution who opened up a way and he gave us guidelines and hints on moving in this bright path. Today our people believe that the Islamic establishment possesses great (INAUDIBLE).
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ELAINE QUILANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does make clear that the United States is keeping a very close eye on this situation. It comes in the form of a written statement from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. The statement reads as follows. Quote, "Like the rest of the world we were impressed by the vigorous debate and enthusiasm that this election generated, particularly among young Iranians. We continue to monitor the entire situation closely, including reports of irregularities."
Now shortly before the White House, Fredricka, issued that written statement we also heard from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Her statement essentially echoed some of what was in this written statement. Take a listen.
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HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, we watched closely the enthusiasm and the very vigorous debate and dialog that occurred in the lead up to the Iranian elections. We are monitoring the situation as it unfolds in Iran. But we, like the rest of the world, are waiting and watching to see what the Iranian people decide. The United States has refrained from commenting on the election in Iran. We, obviously, hope that the outcome reflects the genuine will and desire of the Iranian people.
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QUILANO: Yesterday, President Obama himself made some comments about the Iranian election, saying that the fact that there was a robust debate as he put it, was certainly in his view perhaps a hopeful sign that there might be a little bit of an easier time for the United States in engaging Iran in some new ways. So whether or not that really happens, of course, analysts say it's going to be very difficult because having Ahmadinejad in power essentially means perhaps the same kind of hard line stand.
But the Obama administration is saying here is, look, the thing that does not change is the U.S. view is that Iran should not have its nuclear ambitions realized. That would be a very dangerous situation in their view. What you hear certainly is that they're monitoring this situation very closely. We'll wait to see if there is any other comments here as the day wears on.
WHITFIELD: All right. Elaine from the White House thanks so much. We'll check back with you momentarily. Meantime let's listen in a bit more now to what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is saying from Tehran.
AHMADINEJAD (via Translator): The economy and industry and personal life, in know how, in all affairs, people want their countries a developed one and this is what the Iranian people deserve. People want dignity, people want the name of Iran to be respected, and they want to have -- to see the status of Iran at the highest levels that the people deserve. That's what our people demand. The people want the obstacles to progress and to spread of justice to be identified and to be publicized.
This is people's right and me and people like me will never have the right to spare any effort in that connection. We should introduce the problems and obstacles to the people and we cannot shriek these duties. We should construct the country, serve the nation. These are the people's demands. They are only realized through collective resolve and the national resolve and teamwork. Economic reforms and special reforms, all these can be made possible through a collective cooperation. I invite everybody to join forces to develop and construct the nation.
Everybody can join us. Everyone is free to join us. All of us should join forces, join hands. Iran belongs to everyone. No one claims that I have more sympathy with the people or more capable. Today I'm in charge of the executive branch, but everyone should join forces, everyone is expected -- parties are expected. I respect party activities, but the government belongs to the core of the people and they should fulfill their demand and they should be after what is wanted by the people. These sanctions, reformist, conservative, whatever you may call it, conservative person who is not after developing the country and is not committed to values of the -- and the principles of Iran, I do not recognize them as principles or reformist.
What matters is to pay attention to and to feel committed and adhere to people's values and principles. We should be after meeting the demands of the respected nation of Iran. It's quite clear that the government does not owe anything to any party or any group. People mean everything and the government owes the people, actually, all the government belongs to the people. And in choosing my colleagues I should consider the interests of the people, not those parties and individuals and I promise that absolutely I will never consider recommendations from anyone in doing so and the only criteria will be the qualifications, the outstanding features of the individuals. I think people expect me when it comes to picking my colleagues in the cabinet, to take heed of such features and I feel committed to these. The first thing people want is to see the cabinet ministers, to see healthy and sound, efficient and committed ministers. That's what I feel committed to and I will never accept nobody's recommendation in this connection. The second thing people want is they want managers and officials to be from people, to be down to earth and live a simple life. They want to feel sympathetic to our people and stand along by their side. They also want my colleagues not to be after political inclination and biases. They should pay attention to people's demands, their aspirations, their values and their rights must be given priority. That's what my colleagues should do and with the blessings of god, I will pursue all these.
Another important point that should be institutionalized in this country is everyone is equal in the presence of law. Everyone should have equal rights. I am an official in this country. It should be true about me. This is our constitution. This is our commitment. This is our religion. That requires us to do that. All of us are equal in the face of law. Nobody should be protected from any intervention and monitoring provision and being held accountable to the people.
Of course the president is in charge of actually putting into implement the constitutional law. The president is to safeguard the constitutional law and I will be after this and the constitution means equal rights for all individuals in our society. That's what is basic law. I am committed to the people, both in the previous term and now. I have this commitment and I have been sticking to it to date and it's impossible to return or to move out and leave. People of Iran are so endeared and respected. It is worth for one to sacrifice all of what you have for the people. The people are so dignified.
WHITFIELD: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad there in a direct live address to the people of Iran there after he is declaring a victory. Being re-elected as president. All this while in the streets of Tehran, and in other parts of the world as a matter of fact, people have taken to the streets in protesting that this was an unjust outcome from an election that seemed at the surface to be a very fair one. But Ahmadinejad, underscoring this has been a free and fair election.
We are going to continue to monitor his comments, coming out of Tehran. Meantime, we want to bring in a guest to help us understand and decipher all that is being said and the significance not just to the Iranian audience, but perhaps to the American audience as well. Trita Parsi is joining us from Washington with the National Iranian/American Council. Hope I got that title right.
TRITA PARSI, NATIONAL IRANIAN/AMERICAN COUNCIL: You did.
WHITFIELD: Good to see you Trita. As we hear him trying to offer reassurances to Iran it is you the people that re-elected me we are also seeing a Ahmadinejad using a lot of smiles, he is also talking about bringing equality or maintaining a level of equality among all the people there, and this comes on the heels of a week ago when American President Obama was in Cairo talking to the Muslim community and to the middle eastern community talking about equality, that sons and daughters should be valued equally. Are you seeing -- a direct response that perhaps Ahmadinejad may have not only to the people of Iran, but maybe even responding to President Obama when he was in that region?
PARSI: I'm not so sure about the latter. But it is really interesting. He is now trying to unify Iranians, and trying to show a much nicer face in order to reduce the motivation of the many, many people that are absolutely outraged by this. And it is important to keep in mind, while he is giving this talk on national Iranian TV, they have now filtered face book, no cell phones seem to be working in Iran right now, you cannot use sky communications inside the country is becoming extremely limited.
WHITFIELD: And what happened? Because just 48 hours ago, there was a lot of discussion taking place on the social networking within Iran. And in that conversation, it certainly seemed to I guess lend some thought that perhaps the opposition, Mousavi was doing very well. Had galvanized great support. Huge groundswell of support and suddenly all the communication was shut off. Now we have an outcome of election that is precipitated a lot of protests?
PARSI: Exactly. And we had a situation in which the results were announced in a very rapid fashion. Raising question marks as to whether the votes actually ever were counted. And furthermore, according to the law, they're not supposed to certify the results until three days after the elections in order to give opportunity for any wrongdoings to be investigated. It seems like they completely set aside the law.
WHITFIELD: So, the ayatollah, already came out and rubberstamped this. Is there any recourse for the opposition or supporters of the opposition to say we want a recount? Or let's reassess this?
PARSI: Well what the opposition is doing right now is that they realizing that they actually didn't have a plan. It is the other side that has a plan. So they're taking a couple of steps back. They're working cautiously it seems. And they have tried to go to the supreme leader, it seems like that was unsuccessful. And their last option now is to go above his head and, Mousavi did that a couple hours ago by sending a letter to grand ayatollah, and trying to get support from the larger clergy against what happened here.
WHITFIELD: What's the possibility of that?
PARSI: This could be the biggest infighting in the Islamic Republic in the last 30 years. And it does put on the question -- significant amount of legitimacy that they think that they have managed to amass over the years, through elections like this, this is becoming almost an existential issue.
WHITFIELD: What about neighboring countries? How may they offer any olive branch to stop this infighting as you put it?
PARSI: I am not sure if there are any particular countries in the neighborhood that would be able to come in and play a mediating role. At the end of the day Iran's relations with most of his neighbors are not of such a nature that they would be able to do this. But I think it is important to keep in mind as they're closing down Facebook, as it is becoming more difficult to communicate with people inside of Iran it makes it much more difficult for the international community to be able to figure out what is the best posture that they can take.
WHITFIELD: Canada has just said it is troubled about any intimidation and wants that further investigated. Who would investigate that? And how could that happen?
PARSI: Well, again, right now all -- it ends up being people inside the country. And see what -- what balance will be after the debates. What seems to be happening, we are hearing a lot of silence from some of the opposition camps. What seems to be happening they're counting their cards, they are seeing how many votes they have. Within other bodies of the power elite and see if they can essentially stage what could amount to be a countercoup.
WHITFIELD: It seems that if there was any fear, fear for this administration or this leadership there is no longer any fear that so many young people particularly who are supporters of the opposition would go out in the streets.
PARSI: I don't want to speculate anything. What I think is motivating them now is to realize that it doesn't seem as if they have any other option but to protest. Because if they accept this. That means they have accepted the certainty of defeat and all the repercussions of that. They won't know exactly what the repercussions are. It doesn't look very pretty.
WHITFIELD: The U.S. has been keeping a close watch on things and says it continues to keep a close watch on things. Why is this particularly important in terms of how U.S. diplomacy should be moving forward knowing that if there is one day to be some sort of direct talks with Iran, that it is likely to be President Ahmadinejad who would be part of the equation?
PARSI: Well I think from the president's perspective this is quite some troubling developments because at the end of the day he is pursuing a much, much needed diplomatic strategy with Iran. And the president has shown patience; understand that he has to wait until after the elections. But if the outcome is this, meaning that you have, Ahmadinejad while at the same time a lot of accusations of fraud. Or that this actually continues and there isn't the real outcome but there is political paralysis in Iran then that will make his work probably much, much more difficult.
WHITFIELD: How do you see this expression, this sentiment that we are seeing in the streets of Tehran being duplicated in cities around the world? Already we are seeing a bubbling up of protests taking place in London. What does that do for diplomacy? Does it help push that diplomacy forward? Or keep it top of mind? Or is it rather a set back?
PARSI: No, I think at the end of the day, the international outcry against this particularly by Iranian ex-pats and there are apparently protests in Washington, D.C., 3:00 p.m. Today as well, I think that actually can have an impact. I think again it is very, very important to keep in mind that because of the lack of communication, it is very difficult to know exactly what is taking place inside the country and I think most people within the opposition would probably prefer that the international community is always two steps behind them rather than two steps ahead of them.
WHITFIELD: What is your gut feeling about the outcome? How this all transpired?
PARSI: I have to say that -- most people I have spoken to and myself were first struck by disbelief and then disorientation. Because it is very, very difficult to be able to add this up and say well you know what this actually makes sense that, you know this result could happen. It just doesn't. It just doesn't.
WHITFIELD: All right. Trita Parsi with the National Iran/American Council, thank you so much. We'll be talking with you again momentarily.
PARSI: Thank you for having me.