Ahmadinejad sworn in Iran prez

TEHRAN: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in for a second term as Iran’s president today while security forces battled hundreds of protesters chanting “Death to the Dictator” in the streets around parliament where the ceremony was held.

Key opposition leaders, moderate lawmakers and all three of Ahmadinejad’s election challengers boycotted the swearing-in ceremony. State-run Press TV said more than 5,000 security forces were

in the streets around parliament and police with sniffer dogs patrolled

the area after the opposition called for demonstrations to coincide with the inauguration.

Hundreds of protesters chanted “Death to the Dictator” before security forces broke up a demonstration near parliament, witnesses said. Some wore black T-shirts in a sign of grief and others wore green - the colour of the opposition movement. A middle-aged woman carried a banner warning Iran’s leaders if they do not listen to people’s demands, they will face the same fate as Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was toppled in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The ceremony capped almost two months of the worst political turmoil in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The opposition staged massive street protests and the crisis

split Iran’s clerical leadership. Even conservatives from Ahmadinejad’s own camp harshly criticised the government over mistreatment of detained opposition activists.

In his inaugural address, Ahmadinejad seemed to tone down his often-bellicose rhetoric and emphasised his plans to improve the faltering economy. He demanded that Iran be on an equal footing with other world powers and denounced foreign interference. The government

has accused the US

and the West of backing street protests.

“We must play a key role in the management of the world,” Ahmadinejad said. “We will not remain silent. We will not tolerate disrespect, interference and insults,” he added. “I will spare no effort to safeguard the frontiers of Iran.” “Some countries have not recognised the elections or extended their congratulations. They do not respect the rights of other nations, yet they recognise themselves as the yardstick for democracy,” he said, without naming specific countries. “Nobody in Iran is waiting for anyone’s congratulations,” he added.