Iranian Supreme Leader Calls for Orderly Parliamentary Elections

Posted August 31st, 2011 at 1:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Wednesday that parliamentary elections set for next March should not become a “challenge to national security.”

The comments serve as a caution against possible opposition to Iran's controversial election process that saw protests erupt after alleged voter fraud in 2009.

In a speech to worshippers marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Ayatollah Khamenei said Wednesday elections “always have been somewhat challenging” for Iran. He appealed for national unity.

Claims of voter tampering in a June 2009 presidential election led to mass street protests against the government, which responded with a violent crackdown that killed scores of people. Reformists said the vote was rigged to ensure the re-election of conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The unrest was Iran's worst since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

In the speech at Tehran University, Khamenei also warned Arab nations not to let Western powers take advantage of their recent anti-government uprisings. He said that if the United States, Israel and their allies “seize control” of the movements, the Muslim world will have “huge problems for decades to come.”

Meanwhile, Tehran on Wednesday rejected a Saudi Arabian allegation that Shi'ite-majority Iran is “targeting” the predominantly-Sunni Gulf kingdom. Iranian state media quote an unnamed official as saying the accusation is “baseless.” The Iranian official says Iran wants peace and stability in Saudi Arabia because the security of both nations is linked.

In comments published Monday in Saudi media, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz said his nation is surrounded by security problems in Iraq to the north and Yemen to the south. He also said Iran is “targeting” Saudi Arabia, without elaborating.