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Ayatollah's warning raises stakes in Iran

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Ayatollah's warning raises stakes in Iran

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Iran’s top religious leader has issued what amounts to a warning to opposition leaders to end their protests against the disputed presidential election, officially won by Mahmoud Amadinejad.

In a rare appearance at Friday prayers Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said they would be responsible for any bloodshed arising from the mass demonsrations. “Struggling on the streets is not acceptable,” he said. “It diminishes the electoral process and democracy. All sides should stop. These are not correct actions. If they do not stop then any consequences will be their responsibility.” Khamenei has proposed a partial recount of the election, which the opposition claims was rigged. But there was little sign of compromise in his address. And he underlined his support for Ahmadinejad. He said it was normal for there it be disagreements between the candidates but that he was closer to Ahmadinejad’s position on foreign policy, social justice and culture than he was to those of the others. The losing candidates are scheduled to meet a high level religious council tomorrow to voice their complaints. But from today’s speech it does not seem likely they will achieve their aim of getting the result annulled.