Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ahmadinejad sworn in as Iranian president

Updated on : Wednesday, August 05, 2009

TEHRAN: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in as Iranian president on Wednesday as riot police broke up an opposition protest over an election that triggered the worst turmoil in the Islamic republic's history.

The 52-year-old Ahmadinejad took the oath of office for another four-year term at a ceremony in parliament, defiantly vowing to resist "oppressive powers" and saying his June election marked a major change in Iran.

But prominent opposition leaders were absent from the ceremony, and outside riot police and Basij volunteer Islamic militiamen used pepper gas against demonstrators who claim his landslide victory was fraudulent, witnesses said.

Wednesday's ceremony was attended by about 240 of Iran's 290 MPs as well as clerics, but prominent opposition leaders including Ahmadinejad's main defeated challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi were absent, as was powerful cleric and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

After taking the oath, Ahmadinejad has a two-week deadline to form a new government that is likely to remain on a collision course with the West, particularly over Iran's controversial nuclear drive.

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