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Ahmadinejad sees troubled election as mandate

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday declared that his disputed re-election gave him a mandate to continue his domestic and international policies and spoke out defiantly against the West in a televised speech meant to shore up his legitimacy amid continued political turmoil.

But he softened his rhetoric toward opponents at home from the days after the June 12 election, when he dismissed his rivals as sore losers.

"We have entered a new era in both the domestic sphere and at the international level," he said. "Inside the country the path people are taking is clearer than before. And we will tread on that path more powerfully than before."

During and after his speech, Iranians in various neighborhoods climbed to their rooftops to chant "God is great," and "Death to the dictator" in what has become a nightly protest against Ahmadinejad and in support of former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, his chief rival. Mousavi posted a statement on his Web site Tuesday calling on the government to free prisoners swept up in a crackdown against those disputing the election.

Ahmadinejad described the election as a "momentous" event that "was the freest and the healthiest election the world has ever seen," setting a new start for Iran.

"People put their seal of approval to (my) four years in office," he said.

He said those who alleged that the vote was rigged "failed to offer even a single piece of evidence," though Mousavi recently released a 24-page document detailing accusations of fraud and official photos of a partial recount effort showed hundreds of unfolded ballots, despite the requirement that voters are to fold their ballots.

Ahmadinejad sees troubled election as mandate 07/07/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 7, 2009 10:56pm]
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