21 July 2009

Khatami calls for referendum on election result

Seyed Mohammad Khatami, a former Iranian president, has called for a referendum on whether the result of the June election should be allowed to stand. The election, which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won according to the official results, is seen by a large proportion of Iranians as having been rigged.

Khatami's statement is a direct challenge to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has declared the election result valid.

Khatami is the second ex-president of Iran to speak out vocally on the issue in the last few days. On 17 July, in a Friday prayer sermon, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani called on the authorities to release eveyrone arrested in connection to the massive demonstrations that Iran has been witnessing since June.

It looks like Ahmadinejad and Khamenei are alone on this. They may still be in control, but there is certainly a realignment of forces on. If Ahmadinejad yields, this may well be remembered as the second Islamic revolution, on the thirtieth anniversary of the first one.

[This post was written in Istanbul.]

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