Ahmadinejad to be sworn in amid political turmoil

Ahmadinejad to be sworn in amid political turmoil

Tehran: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be sworn in for a second term on Wednesday, strongly backed by Iran’s supreme leader but fiercely opposed by angry reformists who claim his re-election was rigged.

The ceremony to be held in parliament comes as Iran grapples with its worst turbulence since the 1979 Islamic revolution, with deadly street protests, a raft of political trials and an escalating feud between rival factions.

Ahmadinejad, 52, is himself under fire from his own hardline camp, which questions his loyalty to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The announcement of Ahmadinejad’s landslide victory in the 12 June presidential vote was met with an outpouring of anger from opposition supporters, who claim their votes were stolen.

Massive street protests that erupted in the wake of the announcement left at least 30 people dead and saw several thousand protesters rounded up, among them prominent pro-reform figures and journalists.

Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who stood against Ahmadinejad in the election, have accused the authorities of massive vote rigging and have branded Ahmadinejad’s presidency as illegitimate, in flagrant defiance of Khamenei.

Ahmadinejad’s re-election has also created a rift among the country’s clergy, with several senior clerics siding with the opposition and condemning the post-election violence and the regime’s treatment of its critics.