Iran leader backs Ahmadinejad re-election
Iran's supreme leader on Friday said last week's presidential elections showed off the country's religious democracy to the entire world. In a rare move, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed the country following Friday prayers at Tehran University.
During the speech in front of a crowded hall that included President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Khamenei stressed that if the Iranian people did not feel free they would not have gone to the polls in such huge numbers as they did last Friday.
Khamenei has already approved the June 12 election results that gave Ahmadinejad a landslide victory, but he decided to deliver his speech following the powerful defiance of the reformist camp.
Khamenei praised Iranians for taking part in the election and called it a "a magnificent show of responsibility of the people to determine the fate of their own country."
Khamenei also said Iran's enemies were targeting the Islamic establishment by questioning the authenticity of the recent election. "The enemies are targeting the Islamic establishment's legitimacy by questioning the election and its authenticity before and after (the vote)," the Iranian leader stated.
He also urged protestors to stop their demonstrations. "Today the Iranian nation needs calm," Khamenei said.
He dismissed calls for new elections as demanded by the reformists. "Iran would not cheat... would not betray the truth of the people".
"The legal mechanism for election does not allow any cheating," he added. "Those involved in the election process are aware of this fact." According to him, the 11 million vote-difference between president Ahmadinejad and his rival Mir Hossein Mousavi was enough to convince him there was no doubt who was the rightful winner.
But he accepted that Iran's supreme legislative body, the powerful Guardian Council, would review complaints. "I will not accept any illegal initiatives," Khamenei said in his sermon, rejecting Mousavi's call for holding a second election.