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Iran opposition leaders request OK to commemorate dead

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Iran opposition leaders request OK to commemorate dead

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi and a fellow presidential candidate are requesting a permit to hold a commemoration ceremony for those killed in the fallout after the June 12 elections, according to a post on Moussavi’s Web site Sunday.

At least 20 protesters were killed and more than 1,000 were arrested in Tehran in the first few days after the election, according to human rights groups.

Moussavi, a reformist and chief rival to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and fellow candidate Mehdi Karrubi sent the letter requesting a permit for the ceremony to the Islamic republic’s interior minister, according to Moussavi’s Ghalam News Web site.

The candidates want to hold the ceremony on Thursday at the site for Friday prayers, saying the date would signify the 40th day after the chaotic street demonstrations. For Iranians, a predominantly Shiite Muslim population, the 40th day marks the last official day of mourning in the immediate aftermath of a death.

The letter indicates that there will be no speeches at the proposed ceremony — only recitations from the Quran. Those who attend would be asked to pay their respects to the dead protesters by remaining silent, the letter says

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Khatami: Referendum can end Iran’s election crisis

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Khatami: Referendum can end Iran’s election crisis

Former president Mohammad Khatami has called for a nationwide referendum on the legitimacy of the government, saying Iranians have lost faith in their political leaders after last month’s disputed election.

The opposition charges that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the June 12 election through mass fraud.

“Durability of order and continuation of the country’s progress hinge on restoring public trust,” Khatami, a popular reformist, said, according to the sites.

“From the start, we said there is a legal way to regain that trust. I openly say now that the solution to get out of the current crisis is holding a referendum.”

Khatami, according to the Web sites, also accused hard-liners of undermining democracy and challenging the foundations of the Islamic republic when they chose to stand by the election results.

“We need to ask the people whether they are satisfied with the current situation? If a majority of the people are happy with this situation, we will submit (to their vote),” he said, referring to the referendum.

It is too early to say whether Khatami’s call for a referendum would be adopted by authorities, but it constitutes the latest challenge to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran‘s supreme leader who has the last word on state matters. Khamenei has declared the results of the elections valid.

Under Iran’s constitution, a referendum has to be ordered by Khamenei himself. All popular votes in Iran are monitored by an oversight body, the Guardian Council. Khatami, however, proposed that a neutral body, such as the Expediency Council, should monitor the proposed referendum instead.

Reformists have accused the Guardian Council of openly supporting Ahmadinejad in the election dispute.

The Expediency Council is a powerful clerical body that arbitrates disputes between the legislature and the government. It also advises Khamenei.

Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi claims he won the election, saying official results showing a landslide victory for Ahmadinejad are fraudulent. Hundreds of thousands of Mousavi’s supporters have staged street protests to denounce the results.

At least 20 protesters have since been killed and hundreds detained in clashes with security forces.

Khatami’s suggestion that a referendum be held as a way out of the ongoing crisis comes just days after another former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, criticized the government’s response to the election dispute in his first public comments since the election.

Rafsanjani denounced the government’s violent crackdown against protesters and demanded the release of those detained. Instead of suppression, he said the government should work to address the concerns Iranians have over the legitimacy of the vote.

The sermon was a direct challenge to Khamenei and his hard-line supporters, who have said the election was fair and have called on opposition supporters to drop their claims of vote fraud. They have accused the U.S. and other foreign countries of fomenting the unrest — a charge they have denied.

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