Reuters: Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a rival of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said on Saturday that post-election events had caused "bitterness," but denied there was a power struggle in the Islamic state.
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a rival of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said on Saturday that post-election events had caused "bitterness," but denied there was a power struggle in the Islamic state.
"I don't think that (anybody with a) vigilant conscience is satisfied with the current situation," the ILNA news agency quoted him as saying during a meeting with families of some of those detained after the disputed June 12 election.
His comments appeared to be veiled criticism of how the authorities handled the election and its turbulent aftermath, which saw mass protests by supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi, who says the vote was rigged.
The 75-year-old cleric backed Mousavi's presidency bid and was fiercely criticized by Ahmadinejad on television during the election campaign.
"I hope with good management and wisdom the issues would be settled in the next days and the situation could improve … We should think about protecting the system's long-term interests," Rafsanjani said. The Mehr News Agency also carried his comments.
Some analysts have seen Rafsanjani, an influential figure since the founding of the Islamic Republic three decades ago, as a possible mediator in any effort to defuse the row over the election outcome.
The election and the ensuing unrest exposed splits in Iran's political establishment, analysts say. Scores of leading reformists, including former senior government figures, were detained after the vote.
"Spreading the claim of power struggles at the top level of the establishment is misleading propaganda," Rafsanjani said.
While praising the high level of participation in the vote, he said that "what has happened after that caused some bitterness" among the Iranian people.
"Entering the election scene by candidates … has been a competition within the frame of the system's family and should not be interpreted as a crack in the system," he added.
(Reporting by Hossein Jaseb; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Tim Pearce)