TEHRAN, Iran - Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called President Bush "the
most hated person" in the world on Thursday, keeping up his tirades against the
West despite elections that showed Iranians want him to focus on the country's
In final results announced
Thursday from local elections last week, moderate conservatives opposed to
Ahmadinejad won a majority of seats. They were followed by reformists, making a
comeback after being driven out of local councils, parliament and the presidency
over the past five years.
Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, right, talks with the Pakistani Foreign Minister, Khursheed
Kasuri, during their meeting in the city of Kermanshah 315 miles (525
kilometers) southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Dec. 20,
2006. Pictures of Iran's late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini,
top right, and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, hang on the wall.
In the capital Tehran, where Ahmadinejad was mayor before becoming president
16 months ago, his allies grabbed only three of the 15 council seats, while
moderate conservatives won seven. Reformists won four, and an independent one.
Though the Dec. 15 elections were local, they were the first time the public has
weighed in on Ahmadinejad's stormy presidency.
But Ahmadinejad appeared unbowed. He toured cities in western Iran, telling
the crowds that Iran will not be intimidated by Western demands to dismantle its
nuclear program, and scolding Bush.
"Oh, the respectful gentleman, get out of the glassy palace and know that you
are the most hated person in the eyes of the world's nations and you can't harm
the Iranian nation," Ahmadinejad said, according to the official Iranian
Republic News Agency.
He said Iran would continue uranium enrichment even under threat of U.N.
sanctions. "A nation that has resisted until today will resist until the last
step and will defend its rights," he said.
The United States and its allies believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear
weapons. Iran denies the allegation, saying its nuclear goal is only to generate
Ahmadinejad did not comment on the election results. But his hard-line
foreign policy, in the absence of a strong domestic agenda or economic program,
is believed to have divided the conservative base that voted him into the
presidency last year.
The president has sharply escalated Iran's standoff with the United States
and its allies over several issues. Besides uranium enrichment, he has sparked
international outrage for his calls to eliminate Israel and for casting doubt on
the Nazi Holocaust.
Election results outside Tehran also showed a heavy defeat for Ahmadinejad
supporters. None of his candidates won seats on the councils in the cities of
Shiraz, Bandar Abbas, Sari, Zanjan, Rasht, Ilam, Sanandaj and Kerman, and many
councils in other cities were divided like Tehran's.
Similar anti-Ahmadinejad sentiment appeared in final results of a parallel
election for the Assembly of Experts, the body of 86 senior clerics that
monitors Iran's supreme Islamic leader and chooses his successor.
A big boost for moderates within the ruling Islamic establishment was visible
in the large number of votes for former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who lost
to Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential election runoff.
Rafsanjani, who supports dialogue with the United States, got the most votes
of any candidate from Tehran to win re-election to the assembly.
Opposition candidates demanded that Ahmadinejad pay more attention to
unemployment, now estimated at 11 percent, and other economic problems. He has
failed to carry through on several domestic campaign promises, including a
pledge to send a share of the country's oil revenues to every family and to
implement an anti-poverty program.
The moderate daily newspaper Etemad-e-Melli, or National Confidence, urged
Ahmadinejad to change his policies if he has any respect for the vote.
"The result of the elections, if there is any ear to listen or any eye to
see, demands reconsideration in policies," the paper said in an editorial
Conservative lawmaker Emad Afroogh also called on Ahmadinejad to learn a
lesson from the vote. "The people's vote means they don't like Ahmadinejad's
populist methods," Afroogh told The Associated Press.
Reformist Saeed Shariati also said the results of the election were a "big
no" to Ahmadinejad and his allies, who he accused of harming Iran's interests
with their hard line.
"We consider this government's policy to be against Iran's national interests
and security. It is simply acting against Iran's interests," said Shariati, a
leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Iran's largest reformist party.
His party seeks democratic changes within the ruling Islamic establishment and
supports relations with the United States.