Iran power change ‘neither possible nor desirable’: Ex-president Khatami

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Former Iranian president and leading reformist Mohammad Khatami has rejected the idea of a change of power in the Islamic republic, while admitting there was dissatisfaction with the current government.

Iran has been rocked by two months of protests since the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, three days after her arrest for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress code for women.

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“The overthrow (of the system) is neither possible nor desirable but the continuation of the current situation leads to social collapse,” said Khatami, president from 1997 to 2005.

“The least costly and most beneficial way to restore the lost confidence of a significant part of society is through a self-correction of the system, both in its structure and its behavior,” he said, quoted Tuesday by reformist newspapers.

Authorities in Iran describe the protests as “riots” and accuse the country’s Western foes of fomenting them.

“The root of the tragic events must be sought from within, and they are the result of a mechanism full of errors and an incorrect method of governance,” said Khatami.

“Good governance requires the recognition of the rights of the people and respect for fundamental freedoms, especially the exercise of citizenship rights, because the people are composed of different tendencies, ethnicities, tastes and even religions,” he said.

“It is also necessary to ensure the stability and security of the country with the presence and contribution of the people themselves.”

Khatami welcomed the fact that “despite attempts from outside, the protest has not taken on an ethnic, religious or separatist dimension.”

Earlier this month the Reform Front, an alliance founded in 2021 by officials close to Khatami, called for a referendum to end the “crisis” sparked by Amini’s death.

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