Iran’s presidential elections, scheduled for May 20, were marred by an unprecedented wave of protests that saw demonstrators block roads and block access to the presidential palace.
At least three people were killed, including two protesters killed by police and an opposition leader killed by an armored vehicle, according to a video posted on social media.
In the evening, the presidential office said the elections would go ahead as scheduled.
But on Saturday, the demonstrations escalated and the government declared the election illegal, calling it “a coup d’état” by the “unwitting” opposition.
Protests over the next day turned violent, and hundreds of people were detained.
The protests began when Iran’s parliament passed a law on Friday that banned protesters from attending the polls.
Protesters blocked roads in several cities, and a car was set on fire in the western province of Qom.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who was sworn in last month, had vowed to allow free and fair elections, but his office did not say whether he would allow the protests to continue.
His spokesman, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said in a statement that the “illegal and illegitimate measures of the opposition are aimed at disrupting the elections.”
But in a Twitter message Saturday, Rouhani said he would “exercise all my rights in the face of such a grave threat.”
The head of the United Nations’ human rights mission in Iran, Navi Pillay, also condemned the “violations and acts of sabotage and terrorism” and called on Rouhani to “resign immediately and allow the elections to be held.”
In a tweet, the office of Iranian President Hassan Rohani said that Rohani was “deeply shocked” by what happened.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.