Iranian Opposition Leaders Call Off Protests to Mark One-Year Anniversary of Disputed 2009 Presidential Election

Iran's opposition leaders Thursday called off a weekend demonstration, stunning supporters who had been plastering walls with graffiti and distributing leaflets to promote the event.

In a communique posted to reformist news websites, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi said they were calling off an anti-government rally they had promoted for weeks "in order to safeguard the lives and properties of the people."

Iran's opposition leaders have called off plans for rallies to mark last year's disputed presidential election to avoid clashing with the regime – a decision that will be widely seen as a serious setback for the pro-democracy Green movement.

Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims he beat Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June, and his fellow reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi, announced that protests would not go ahead on Saturday "in order to preserve people's lives and property". But they said the struggle against an "illegitimate" government would carry on.