Khatami's landslide triggers clashes

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The Independent Online

Iran's reformist President, Mohammad Khatami, celebrated his landslide victory in Friday's election yesterday by sharing a platform with the figurehead of the conservative establishment hours after their supporters had clashed on the capital's streets.

Speaking on the anniversary of the death of the prophet Mohammad, he said in the presence of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that voters had made the country a "shining example of a religious democracy".

Mr Khamenei, who opposes reform, said that the people had "shown their will".

Mr Khatami won 21.7 million of the 28.2 million votes cast on Friday, while his nearest rival, Ahmad Tavakoli, got 4.4 million. Mr Tavakoli was known to be the candidate favoured by the conservative clerical establishment and its supporters.

The frustration of these supporters was evident in the early hours of yesterday morning, when sporadic violence erupted after hardline militants in Tehran broke up street celebrations in the north of the city by the Presidents' supporters.

* The BBC's John Simpson and two colleagues were arrested by secret police in Tehran on Saturday. They were covering a celebration by supporters of Mr Khatami. The BBC said secret policemen who oppose Mr Khatami mingled with the crowds, taking names, filming them and using strong-arm tactics against foreign journalists. The team was released after three-and-a-half hours.

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