Moderate Khatami confirmed as Iran's new president
August 3, 1997
Web posted at: 10:45 a.m. EDT (1445 GMT)
TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Mohammad Khatami was confirmed as
Iran's new president on Sunday and immediately called for
cooperation in domestic affairs and peaceful coexistence with
Khatami, a 54-year-old moderate cleric, was confirmed in the
post by the country's supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, in a ceremony at a mosque next to the house of the
late revolutionary patriarch Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Launching his presidency, Khatami said Iran's domestic
problems called for "cooperation and coordination between the
great scholars of this country." And addressing the people of
Iran, Khatami said, "We need each and every person of this
great nation, the women, the men, the youth. ..."
Khatami also addressed Iran's international relations, in
what some analysts characterized as a conciliatory, rather
than confrontational, speech.
"Iran is for peace and security and it has a message of
spirituality for all the people of the world," he said.
"Based on wisdom (Iran) will shake hands with the people of
the world maintaining its Islamic dignity and national
However, there was a veiled hint at the strained relations
with the United States and Israel. "Because we want this for
all of humanity, we oppose the high-handedness of certain big
countries." Khatami said.
Khatami follows outgoing President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who
has been made head of a policy advisory council. Rafsanjani,
who was widely considered a moderate, too, said he would be a
force in Khatami's government.
Khatami scored the biggest upset of Iran's 18-year revolution
when he defeated conservative hard-liners, including
parliamentary speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, in the May
His election sweep was largely due to the wide support by
women, young people and those intellectuals who oppose
stricter Islamic rules in everyday life.
Khatami, a former minister of culture, is credited with
reviving music and cinema after the 1979 Islamic revolution,
and he helped lift the ban on women singing in public.
However, Iran watchers say Khatami will have to tread
carefully in light of hard-line religious pressure, and will
not have the power to scrap a social code that still bans
dating and insists that women cover themselves from head to
toe in public.
Khatami will formally be sworn in at the parliament on
Monday. And that parliament will likely be his first real
challenge, since the dominating hard-liners may well
challenge his choice of ministers, or try to scuttle his
policies, should they disagree with Khatami's priorities.
The new president also faces a challenge on the economic
front. Unemployment stands at nearly 11 percent, and annual
inflation is even higher than that. Much of this has to do
with the fact that Iran is still feeling the long-term
effects of its devastating war with Iraq in the 1980s.
Monday's swearing-in ceremony could be overshadowed by an
ongoing dispute between Iran and the European Union. Both
sides are said to be engaged in last-minute efforts to get EU
ambassadors back to Tehran in time for the swearing-in
EU countries except for Greece recalled their ambassadors
from Tehran after a German court concluded in April that
Iran's top leaders had ordered the 1992 assassination of four
Iranian Kurdish dissidents in a restaurant in Berlin.
Iran has rejected involvement in the killings.
Iran is now insisting that the German ambassador should be
the last to arrive back in Tehran, and it objects to a
collective return of envoys on the same aircraft.
Correspondent Eric Olander, Reporter Shirzad Bozorgmehr and Reuters contributed to this report.
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