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Ahmadinejad slammed for 'fabrications'

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani witnessed ''misstatements.'' Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani witnessed ''misstatements.''
Reuters / June 10, 2009
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TEHRAN - One of Iran's most senior politicians accused President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday of lying in a televised presidential election debate and called on the country's supreme leader to intervene.

In an unprecedented public attack, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said tens of millions of Iranians had witnessed "misstatements and fabrications" in the debate last week, when Ahmadinejad accused Rafsanjani of corruption.

Ahmadinejad also said in the debate Rafsanjani was part of a political alliance supporting the main challenger, Mirhossein Mousavi, and seeking to prevent his reelection Friday.

"I am expecting you to resolve this position in order to extinguish the fire, whose smoke can be seen in the atmosphere, and to foil dangerous plots," Rafsanjani said in a letter to Khamenei, published by the semi-official Mehr news agency.

The election campaign has been marked by fierce public debate between Ahmadinejad and his moderate opponents, and nightly demonstrations by rival supporters on Tehran's streets. Rafsanjani's intervention is likely to raise tensions further.

"Even if I continue to tolerate this situation, there is no doubt that some people, parties, and factions will not tolerate this situation," Rafsanjani said, hinting that supporters of Ahmadinejad's rivals could take matters into their own hands.

Fourteen high-ranking clerics from the holy Shi'ite city of Qom echoed Rafsanjani's remarks, expressing "deep concern and regret" that Iran's image had been harmed in the debate.

Ahmadinejad faces three rival candidates, who have accused him of lying about the state of Iran's economy.