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Opposition leader seeks referendum on Ahmadinejad

Iran's opposition leader said Tuesday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's foreign policies are destructive and his performance as president should be judged in a referendum.

Mir Hossein Mousavi said the president's actions on the world stage, such as a speech at the U.N. last month in which he questioned 9/11, have helped deepen Iran's isolation and worsen its economy.

"Who has given you the permission to put the country against the entire world through adventurism and dictatorship that has led to the current grave economic and political situation?" Mousavi said on his website, Kaleme.com. "Don't cry hurray for yourself. Hold a referendum to see whether the people recognize these destructive policies or not."

The pro-reform politician, who ran against Ahmadinejad in last year's election, is at the head of an opposition movement in disarray and left hobbled by a crackdown on protesters, activists and reformist politicians.

Mousavi, whose office was raided and surrounded by security forces for days last month, can do little more than issue challenging rhetoric on his website in an attempt to keep rank-and-file activists inspired and encourage Iranian government opponents living abroad.

In his latest remarks, Mousavi attacked the Iranian president's speech at the U.N. and accused Ahmadinejad of trying to win points in the Arab world with such provocative statements at the expense of Iran's people.

During his speech in front of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Ahmadinejad said a majority of people in the U.S. and around the world believe the American government staged the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The speech drew a strong rebuke from President Barack Obama.

"We may hear cries of hurray at coffee shops in some Arab countries, but the real effect of the speech will be felt more everyday ... in the market and the national economy," Mousavi said.

Mousavi claims he was the rightful winner of the 2009 election but that he was robbed of victory through fraud. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians protested the official results.

Mousavi said Iran's elites have either been jailed or sidelined despite Ahmadinejad's claims at the U.N. that his political opponents are free.

In the postelection crackdown, more than 80 demonstrators were killed and hundreds of activists and pro-reform figures were arrested.

The government, which puts the number of confirmed deaths at 30, accuses opposition leaders of being "stooges of the West" and of seeking to topple the ruling system through street protests.

Mousavi argues that some in the clerical establishment — which came to power in the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the pro-U.S. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi — have increasingly become corrupt and strayed from the revolution's original ideals.