TEHRAN (Reuters) – Influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has urged people to follow Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s guidelines, five weeks after he challenged the authority of Iran‘s most powerful figure.
Rafsanjani, who last month defied a call by hardline clerics to back Iran‘s disputed presidential election result, also called for action to foster unity, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The conciliatory statement appeared to be in contrast to a hard-hitting sermon Rafsanjani delivered on July 17, when he declared the Islamic Republic in crisis and demanded an end to arrests of moderates following the election.
Shortly after that sermon, 50 members of the 86-seat Assembly of Experts, the body which appoints the supreme leader, called on Rafsanjani to show more support for Khamenei, who endorsed hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election in the June vote, which reformers say was rigged.
Rafsanjani, a rival of Ahmadinejad, backed moderate Mirhossein Mousavi in the poll.