CAIRO (RPRN) 8/5/2009–Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the oath of office for a second term as president in front of Iran’s parliament, Wednesday – delivering a short and sober speech saying he would defend the nation.Â A number of his opponents in parliament did not show up for the ceremony.
Iranian members of parliament stood at attention for the national anthem, before the oath of office was officially administered to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The ceremony comes after weeks of unrest, following a disputed June 12 presidential election, amid charges of vote-rigging by his opponents.
Reports of scattered protests, both outside of parliament and elsewhere, spoke of small crowds being dispersed by security forces, using pepper spray. Reuters says at least one woman protester was arrested.
Mr. Ahmadinejad’s opponents in parliament had vowed not to attend his swearing-in ceremony and Iranian TV’s quick pan of the parliament chamber revealed a number of empty seats.
Looking serious and speaking in a firm and sober tone of voice, President Ahmadinejad vowed to protect his country and his religion.
He went on to reiterate criticism of outside forces saying that their efforts to question his re-election would get nowhere:
Without naming them, he says that opponents and enemies had tried to create a dusty and hazy atmosphere, sowing doubt and trying to depict a somber future. He says intelligent people turned out in elections, seeking the assistance of God.
The Iranian president also took what appeared to be a subtle swipe at several Western leaders, including President Barack Obama, who have recently congratulated him on his re-election and recognized him as Iran’s president:
He said that no one in Iran is waiting for congratulations and that the Iranian nation does not give importance to frowns and threats or to congratulations and smiles.
Eyewitnesses say that hundreds of police and security forces were deployed outside the parliament, to prevent any sizable opposition gathering. A nearby transit station was closed to the public.
Supporters of opposition leaders Mirhossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi had called for protests against Mr. Ahmadinejad’s inauguration ceremony.
Photo credit: The Press Secretary Office of the President of Indonesia