Iran's supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has formally confirmed President Mohammed Khatami for a second four-year term of office. The ceremony Thursday was part of the process that began with national elections in June and will culminate on Sunday, when President Khatami is officially sworn in before the Iranian parliament.
In a colorful ceremony broadcast live on Iranian radio and television, Ayatollah Khamenei gave his official approval for a second Khatami term. Ayatollah Khamenei said the people's vote is valid as long as the president serves Islam, defends the oppressed, and stands against what he termed "arrogant enemies."
He urged the president to focus on improving the economy and warned of the dangers of liberalization. He described liberalism as a cultural attack against Iran by its enemies and he called for tougher measures by the state against corruption and immorality.
President Khatami won a landslide election victory June 8 with about 77 percent of the vote. It was seen as a resounding mandate to continue political reforms and bring about greater individual freedoms. But, the president had a similar mandate during his first term in office, and yet many of his attempts at reform were frustrated by the country's conservative clerics.
Political analysts have told VOA, that while most Iranians, especially the young, want greater political and social freedom, they are also aware of the constraints the president faces. And, analysts say the president will move cautiously as he begins his second term to meet the demands for reform from his electorate without angering the conservative hard-liners.
President Khatami will appear before Iran's parliament on Sunday for the official swearing-in ceremony. He then has two weeks to present his new cabinet to parliament for approval.