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Iran's Leader Approves Ahmadinejad Presidency

Re-elected President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, June 2009
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has formally endorsed the second term presidency of Mahmud Ahmadinejad after a disputed election that plunged Iran into its worst crisis since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The results, which leading reformists and moderate defeated candidates Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi Karrubi said were rigged to ensure victory for the hard-line Ahmadinejad, led to violent protests and deep schisms within Iran's clerical and political elite.

Leading opposition figures and two former presidents, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, who backed Musavi in the vote, were not at the ceremony although they had attended such events in the past, Iranian media reported on August 3.

"The official ceremony was held and Supreme Leader [Khamenei] approved Mr. Ahmadinejad's presidency," the Arabic-language Al-Alam state television said.

Musavi and Karrubi say the next government will be illegitimate.

Iranian officials deny any fraud in the election, in which the hard-line Ahmadinejad was declared to have won 63 percent of 40 million votes cast, against 34 percent for Musavi.

Ahmadinejad will be sworn in by parliament on August 5.

He then faces the hard task of forming a cabinet that will be acceptable to the mostly conservative parliament, which may object if he names only members of his inner circle. Parliament has in the past rejected some of Ahmadinejad's cabinet choices.