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Ayatollah warns against helping Iran's enemies
Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:26am EDT
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By Zahra Hosseinian
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned senior officials on Monday not to help Tehran's enemies after two former presidents expressed defiant opposition to the result of June's disputed presidential poll.
Clashes erupted between police and reformist protesters for the first time in weeks in Tehran on Friday after former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani declared the Islamic Republic in crisis and said there were doubts about the election result.
That statement was a clear challenge to the authority of Khamenei, Iran's most powerful figure whose endorsement of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's landslide victory was meant to be the final word on the fairness of the June 12 poll.
Reformist former president, Mohammad Khatami, on Monday weighed in, calling for a referendum on the legitimacy of the government and defeated reformist candidate Mirhossein Mousavi called for the release of hundreds arrested in widespread June street protests against the election result.
"Elites should know that any talk, action or analysis that helps (the enemy) is a move against the nation. We should be very careful," Khamenei said in a speech to Iranian officials in a clear reference to recent statements questioning the poll.
"People regard with hate anyone, in any position, who wants to move society toward insecurity," Khamenei said. "There are things that should not be said. If we say them, we have moved against the nation. This is now a test for the elites and failing in this test ... means falling down."
Mousavi said it was wrong to accuse those detained in the protests of being linked to plots by foreign powers. It was unclear whether he made the comment in response to Khamenei's remarks.
Khamenei normally mediates above the political fray, but backed Ahmadinejad's victory soon after the poll while reformists cried foul and said the result was rigged.
Rafsanjani, a veteran insider who heads a body that can in theory dismiss the supreme leader, is now fighting for political survival because Khamenei ignored pleas to rein in Ahmadinejad after he accused the former president of corruption.
CALL FOR REFERENDUM
On top of the June protests, the biggest in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, the public battle within Iran's clerical establishment poses an unprecedented challenge to the authority of Khamenei who came to power in 1989.
Reformers, aware of the rising expectations of a population mostly born since the revolution, argue the Islamic Republic must become more open and accountable to its people to survive.
"The only way out of the current situation is to hold a referendum," websites on Monday quoted Khatami as saying.
"People should be asked whether they are happy with the current situation ... If the vast majority of people are happy with the current situation, we will accept it as well."
Hardliners condemned Rafsanjani's Friday sermon. One cleric said Iran's government drew its legitimacy from "almighty God." Continued...
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