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Iran cleric assails opposition, explains ‘legitimacy’


Amid perpetual defiance by the Iranian opposition following the country’s disputed presidential election, a senior Principlist cleric assails efforts to question the ‘legitimacy’ of the government.

Ayatollah Seyyed Ahamd Khatami said Friday that the government is “legitimized by law and Sharia when it is confirmed” by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution.

The confirmation ceremony is expected to be held by the end of July or early August.

Addressing a crowd at Tehran University Khatami said raising questions about the issue was a “plot” against the political establishment’s authority. He added that while the plot had failed, it had inflicted damage.

His comments amounted to harsh criticism directed at former president Mohammad Khatami who on Sunday called for a referendum on the legitimacy of the administration as a means to end the disquiet over the recent presidential election.

The former president, whose proposal was welcomed by Reformist movements and endorsed by the Association of Combatant Clerics, said that if the majority of the people accepted the Ahmadinejad administration, the opposition will recognize it as well.

Tehran’s interim Friday Prayers Leader, however, said that the real referendum had been held on June 12 when some 40 million voters expressed their stance.

The Principlist cleric, who is a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts and a supporter of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, added that the most devastating blow to the “republican nature of the Islamic Revolution” was the post-election “riots.”

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of the Iranian capital, Tehran, after the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with nearly two-thirds of the vote.

Ahmadinejad’s rivals — Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi — reject the election result as fraudulent and call for the annulment and a re-run of the vote.

Mousavi, who questions the legitimacy of the Ahmadinejad administration, has vowed to pursue his stance ‘legally’.

His charges, however, have been disputed by the Guardian Council, Iran’s electoral watchdog.

During his Friday sermon, Ayatollah Khatami also warned against warming up to ‘foreigners who do not respect the interests of Iran’.

“I do not know how to express my grief when the intelligence minister [Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i] says during the past month or two, certain headquarters have contacted foreign embassies and the British Embassy (in Tehran) more than a 100 times,” he said.

“Britain is the old fox of imperialism which has no knowledge but deceit and stratagem,” he warned.

Iran blamed the post-election protests on foreign ‘interference’, and accuses certain Western countries, particularly Britain, for the unrest.

Ayatollah Khatami also alleged that certain groups had contacted the White House before the election and asked the Americans to wait for a new Iranian government before engaging in diplomatic talks.

“[These] helpless people think having relations with the US is a rarity that they must pursue.”

His remarks come as Iranian officials say the prospects of rapprochement with Washington lie in the hands of the Obama administration. Iran demands practical ‘change’ in US attitude toward the country before any talks.

Tehran and Washington have not had diplomatic relations for nearly three decades.

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