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Iran's Musavi Urges More Protests

"It is up to your friends to not betray the confidence...created in the struggle against the cheaters and the liars," Mir Hossein Musavi says on his website.
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi has called for continued protests over Iran's disputed June election, two days after MPs backed most of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's new government ministers.

Musavi, remaining defiant over a poll he says was rigged in favor of the hard-line president, urged his supporters to create a wide opposition network using meetings such as family and union gatherings, as well as sporting and cultural events.

"In order to achieve our cause, I do not recommend anything but the pursuit of the green path of hope which you have followed in the past few months...through small and large gatherings," he said in a statement on a reformist website.

Green was the color of Musavi's election campaign and was also used during the huge opposition protests that followed the vote.

"It is up to your friends to not betray the confidence...created in the struggle against the cheaters and the liars," said Musavi, who repeated allegations of "organized violations and fraud."

The authorities reject opposition charges of rigging in the election almost three months ago, which plunged Iran into its deepest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and exposed deepening establishment divisions.

Bolstering his position after weeks of postelection turmoil, parliament on September 3 approved 18 out of Ahmadinejad's proposed 21 ministers in his new cabinet, which is due to hold its first meeting on September 6 in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

But Musavi's statement was a sign the president would face continued pressure from his moderate opponents, who regard his government as illegitimate.

Mass Trials

Last month, Iran began mass trials of leading reformers and Musavi allies, accused of fomenting street unrest after the election in a bid to undermine the Islamic republic's clerical leadership.

Hard-liners have called for the arrests of Musavi and pro-reform cleric Mehdi Karrubi, who have both said some opposition protesters have been raped and abused in jail.

"Contrary to what the government's propaganda apparatus tries to imply, it is we who are calling for the return of trust and calm to society and it is we who are staying away from any hard-line and violent measures," Musavi said.

"We have very clear and logical demands. We are asking for the preservation of the Islamic fepublic and strengthening of national unity," his statement said.

Karrubi also vowed to continue his fight in a meeting with supporters in the city of Qazvin, west of Tehran. "As long as we are alive, we will defend the aims and the values of the revolution, the system, and our national and social interests," his website quoted him as saying.