Sunday, June 26, 2005 - Rafsanjani lashes out at clerics - Jun 26, 2005 - Iran loser lashes out at clerics - Jun 26, 2005: "Iran loser lashes out at clerics

Sunday, June 26, 2005; Posted: 7:27 a.m. EDT (11:27 GMT)

Iran's President Ahmadinejad, right, shares a laugh with speaker of Iran's Parliament Gholamali Haddad Adel.

Manage Alerts | What Is This? TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Banner headlines in Sunday newspapers hailed Iran's new president as a man of the people while his defeated opponent lashed out at the country's ruling clerics, accusing them of illegally interfering in polling.

"My opponents used all means within the ruling establishment and facilities of the regime in an organized and illegal way to intervene in elections (and) damage my credibility," defeated candidate Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani said in a statement released on his Web site and carried in Sunday's newspapers, including the government-run Iran Daily.

Rafsanjani said he would not file a formal complaint, saying Iran's judges either wouldn't or could not independently investigate his charges.

"I have no intention of complaining to judges, who have shown either they don't want or they cannot do anything," Rafsanjani said in his statement. "I only complain to God."

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry told Europe Sunday not to prejudge its new president and to drop any expectations of a change in Iran's nuclear policy.

"Europeans should avoid making any judgment before the new president begins his job," ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi told a news conference. "In fact the vote on Friday provided the government with a greater ability to face challenges."

He did not elaborate. Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was seen as the favorite of Iran's powerful ruling clerics, who have the final say on most political issues, and certainly on Iran's nuclear policy.

Assefi reiterated that Iran's nuclear policy remains unchanged. Iran has already said it will restart its uranium enrichment program, but maintains its program is for peaceful purposes to provide cheap energy.

The reform-minded Iran News headlined its Sunday edition with a statement from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: 'U.S. Humiliated by Election."

Ahmadinejad's calls for unity and promises to heal divisions caused by the hotly contested elections were featured prominently.

Ahmadinejad, who is expected to hold a news conference Sunday to outline his plan for the nation, issued a brief statement Saturday saying his ambition was to make Iran a "powerful and Islamic" model for the world, borrowing the style of the hard-line ruling clerics who backed him in his landslide victory. He called for unity between opposing camps in the election.

But in his brief radio address he did not mention his views on the future for Iran's growing social freedoms -- leaving liberal critics still fearing the worst.

It was an ironic twist that Iran's first non-cleric to reach the country's highest elected office since the 1979 Islamic Revolution was more religiously hard-line than the cleric he defeated, former President Rafsanjani.

Ahmadinejad's victory gives conservatives control of Iran's two highest elected offices -- the presidency and parliament.

Ahmadinejad won Friday's runoff race by a healthy 61.6 percent of the vote over Rafsanjani's 35.9 percent. The rest of the ballots were deemed invalid.

Nearly 28 million ballots were cast, or more than 59 percent of Iran's approximately 47 million eligible voters. In last week's election, the turnout was close to 63 percent.

Ahmadinejad hasn't revealed the makeup of his Cabinet, but his deputy campaign manager told The Associated Press that a 200-member team cobbled together during the presidential campaign has been pouring over names and resumes.

"The only requirement is a willingness to serve the people," said 32-year-old Abdulhasan Faqih, a soft-spoken doctor who helped to steer Ahmadinejad's spectacularly successful campaign.

There were shortlists for some key positions, Faqih said.

"We are looking at everyone who is now in the government, and any official who changes his tendencies and begins serving the people may stay at his post and continue to work with Ahmadinejad," Faqih said.

He named only two within the current administration who qualified: Mehdi Chamran, a deeply conservative Tehran Municipal Council chairman who is the brother of one of Iran's cherished war heroes and who has close ties to the Revolutionary Guard; and the 60-year-old parliament speaker, Ghulam Ali Haddad-Adel, described as a moderate conservative with good relations with both the hard-line and the reformist movements.

Ahmadinejad's campaign headquarters, a modest two-story concrete house tucked away in a narrow alleyway in the heart of Tehran's downtown, had the unassuming and humble appearance that reflected the image cultivated by the new president, qualities voters embraced in large numbers.

"God willing things will be better with Ahmadinejad," said Tala Shabani, a woman worker at a welfare organization in the city. "I'm the only one earning for my family. Ahmadinejad is a humble man. Let's see what he can do."

Outgoing President Mohammad Khatami had introduced reforms and social changes but was often stymied by the ruling clerics.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed."


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