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Opposition leader calls for referendum on Iran’s president

Says policies have deepened isolation

By Ali Akbar Dareini
Associated Press / October 6, 2010

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TEHRAN — Iran’s opposition leader said yesterday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s foreign policies are destructive and his performance as president should be judged in a referendum.

Mir Hossein Mousavi said the president’s actions on the world stage, such as a speech at the United Nations last month in which he questioned the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have helped deepen Iran’s isolation and worsen its economy.

“Who has given you the permission to put the country against the entire world through adventurism and dictatorship that has led to the current grave economic and political situation?’’ Mousavi said on his website, Kaleme.com. “Don’t cry hurray for yourself. Hold a referendum to see whether the people recognize these destructive policies or not.’’

The politician, who ran against Ahmadinejad in last year’s election, is at the head of an opposition movement in disarray and left hobbled by a crackdown on protesters, activists, and opposition politicians.

Mousavi, whose office was raided and surrounded by security forces for days last month, can do little more than issue challenging rhetoric on his website in an attempt to keep rank-and-file activists inspired and encourage Iranian government opponents living abroad.

In his latest remarks, Mousavi attacked the Iranian president’s speech at the UN and accused Ahmadinejad of trying to win points in the Arab world with such provocative statements at the expense of Iran’s people.

During his speech in front of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Ahmadinejad said a majority of people in the United States and around the world believe the American government staged the Sept. 11 attacks. The speech drew a strong rebuke from President Obama.

“We may hear cries of hurray at coffee shops in some Arab countries, but the real effect of the speech will be felt more every day. . . in the market and the national economy,’’ Mousavi said.

Mousavi contends that he was the rightful winner of the 2009 election but that he was robbed of victory through fraud.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians protested the official results.

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