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Wife Says Iran's Musavi Does Not Recognize Government

Mir Hossein Musavi
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi still does not recognize President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government, Musavi's wife said in comments carried by opposition websites today.

Zahra Rahnavard's statement was issued a day after another senior opposition figure, Mehdi Karrubi, was quoted as saying he now recognized Ahmadinejad as head of government even though he still believed last year's election was rigged.

Musavi came second and Karrubi fourth in the disputed presidential poll, which was won by Ahmadinejad. Both Musavi and Karrubi called after the election for it to be annulled.

"I want to emphasize that we do not recognize Ahmadinejad's government and we will not make a compromise behind the scenes," Rahnavard was quoted as telling the pro-reform Roozonline website, referring to herself and her husband.

Several opposition websites carried her comments, including Mousavi's official Kaleme site.

"We are following up people's rights and demands with honesty," said Rahnavard, who actively campaigned for Musavi in the election.

The reformist opposition says the poll was rigged to secure Ahmadinejad's reelection. The authorities deny the charge.

The disputed vote was followed by huge opposition protests and plunged Iran into its deepest internal turmoil since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, exposing establishment divisions.

On January 25, Karrubi's son said his father recognized Ahmadinejad as head of government even though he still believed the vote was rigged. It was the first time such an expression of recognition had been attributed to Karrubi.

But Karrubi later made clear that he had not fundamentally changed his position on the election and its aftermath.

"I will say strongly that I will not make a compromise over people's rights...and I will stand beside people until the end of the path and I will try for the implementation of free elections," his party's website quoted him as saying today.

"The more time passes, the stronger my belief becomes that there were widespread fraud in the election," Karrubi said.

Thousands of people, including senior reformers, were detained after the poll for fomenting unrest. Most of them have since been released, but more than 80 people have been jailed for up to 15 years and five have been sentenced to death.

"Arresting those who talk of freedom and people's rights is not legal," Rahnavard was quoted as saying.

Tension has risen in Iran since eight people were killed during clashes between opposition supporters and security forces last month. Opposition backers have circulated messages on the Internet of possible new protests on February 11, when Iran marks the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.