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Opposition skips out on Ahmadinejad's swearing-in

Leading reformist politicians signaled their intent to continue protest over what they say was a fraudulent election.

(Page 2 of 2)

"The government must take into account and solve the problems of those who were affected by the recent riots," Khamenei advised the new government, adding that "some elites failed" through their performance in the recent election.

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A crowd of officials, turbaned clerics, and foreign ambassadors filled the room. A long row of mullahs and military men stretched in an arc behind the stage, partially disappearing behind a curtain. In a photograph circulated by reformist groups, one was identified as Mojtaba Khamenei – the Supreme Leader's son. The younger Khamenei has a Revolutionary Guard background and was identified as leading the crackdown on opposition protests a month ago.

Paying respects

The only presidential candidate attending was the conservative Mohsen Rezaie whose news website, Tabnak, later carried a quote by a member of parliament explaining that "attendance at the ceremony was out of respect for the Leader, not for Mr. Ahmadinejad."

According to the article, several grand ayatollahs in Qom advised Mr. Rezaie, a former commander of the Revolutionary Guard, a militia ideologically allied with Ahmadinejad, to attend in order to strengthen his relations with Khamenei after a period of alienation.

Dozens of parliamentarians and members of the influential Assembly of Experts were missing, and empty places gaped on the platform on either side of Khamenei.

Also missing was reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi who, like Mousavi and Rafsanjani, was a protégé of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader behind the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The pro-Ahmadinejad Fars News Agency alleged that Mr. Karroubi incited antigovernment demonstrations on Monday.

"Failed presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi appeared at the Beheshti and Vali Asr crossroads to incite participants in the illegal protest," the agency reported.

Policemen dressed in white summer uniforms staked out squares in central Tehran that have become opposition rallying points. Soldiers in green uniforms idled inside parked prison vans often used to ferry arrested protesters to detention centers.

Ms. Shams points out that many of those who stayed away from the inauguration were close to Khomeini, and that the political rivalries in Iran do not break down along simply reformist vs. conservative lines.

"You have all these gaps not just among conservatives and reformists," she says, "but among conservatives themselves."