Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi called Tuesday for a referendum on what he described as the "destructive" economic and political policies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Mousavi, who lost to Ahmadinejad in a disputed June 2009 presidential vote, has remained the main leader of the reformist "Green" movement.
"Who has given you the right to ... create this critical economic and political situation in the country? Don't praise yourselves. Hold a referendum to see whether people accept these destructive policies or not," Mousavi's Kaleme website quoted him as saying, referring to the country's leaders.
"The (ruling) system today has dangerous hallucinations and is destroying all small and big bridges behind itself."
The remarks were among the strongest issued publicly by the opposition leader in months.
Iran's presidential vote set off the worst domestic unrest in the Islamic Republic's 30-year rule, exposing rifts in its political and clerical elite. Opposition leaders say the vote was rigged to re-elect Ahmadinejad, while the authorities say it was the healthiest election the country has had.
Protests against Ahmadinejad by UN building (Photo: AFP)
The vote was followed by street protests put down violently by security forces. Mass detentions and trials followed. Two people were hanged and scores of detainees remain in jail.
The authorities have portrayed the opposition movement as a foreign-backed plot to undermine the Islamic establishment, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly backed Ahmadinejad in the election controversy.
Mousavi insisted the movement was alive. Many Iranians feel the campaign is fading as Mousavi, a former prime minister, lacks the political will to confront the establishment from which he sprang.
At least a dozen pro-reform publications and most opposition websites have been blocked since the vote, making it hard for opposition leaders to communicate with the public.
Security forces attacked Mousavi's office in September and seized his computers, a move described by opposition websites as "a new wave of pressure and limitations" on the reform movement.
Iran is at odds with the West over its disputed nuclear programme. Western countries suspect Iran's atomic work is a cover for nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies.
"Telling lies should be stopped so we can have all people behind the Islamic establishment... No government can defend itself from serious dangers except by creating unity among its people," Mousavi said.
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