August 4, 2009 in Nation/World

Ahmadinejad sworn in to second term in Iran

Opposition members absent from inaugural
Thomas Erdbrink Washington Post
Associated Press photo

This photo released by the official Web site of the Iranian supreme leader’s office shows Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, receiving the presidential decree from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for his second term.
(Full-size photo)

Hikers called agents

 Also Monday, Iranian television broadcast a news bulletin accusing three American hikers who were arrested in Iran on Friday of being “CIA agents.”

 Iranian authorities themselves have not commented on the capture of the three Americans, who were hiking in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq when they apparently crossed the border into Iran and were taken into custody.

 Because the news report was attributed to anonymous Iraqi police sources, it was unclear whether the Iranian government also suspected the trio of spying.

 In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that the U.S. government has not yet received official confirmation from Iran that it is holding the three. She said the Swiss government, which represents U.S. interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic relations between Washington and Tehran, has been asked to pursue inquiries about them.

TEHRAN – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was inaugurated Monday by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran, during a sober ceremony notable for the absence of several prominent figures linked to the opposition.

After the ceremony, witnesses reported unrest in central Tehran, as security forces deployed to prevent government opponents from demonstrating against Ahmadinejad’s initiation of a second four-year term following a disputed election. Riot police and other security elements turned out in force in main squares and streets, where groups of protesters attempted to gather, and motorists honked their car horns in a show of opposition, witnesses said.

The semiofficial Fars News Agency reported that opposition presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi showed up at a demonstration against the inauguration, joining about 100 supporters at an intersection before riot police broke up the gathering. Iranian state television charged that Karroubi, 71, a Shiite Muslim cleric and former parliamentary speaker, was “egging on the hooligans.”

Neither Karroubi nor Mir Hossein Mousavi, the leading opposition presidential candidate, attended the ceremony for Ahmadinejad. Mousavi, 67, a former prime minister, continues to dispute the June 12 election results that showed him losing to Ahmadinejad in a landslide. Other senior figures who were not present included two influential Shiite clerics and former presidents: Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami. Rafsanjani, who heads two top supervisory bodies in the Iranian governing system, favors the opposition and has not congratulated Ahmadinejad on his second term. Khatami, who according to protocol should have been there as Ahmadinejad’s direct predecessor, sides with reformers opposed to Ahmadinejad.

Rafsanjani’s absence was most notable. As head of the Assembly of Experts, an 86-member clerical council that has the power to change the supreme leader, and secretary of the Expediency Council, which referees in conflicts between high institutions, Rafsanjani is usually present at such important public meetings.

The ceremony was the religious portion of Ahmadinejad’s swearing-in. He will take the oath of office again on Wednesday before the Iranian parliament.

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