Iran ex-president Khatami urges \'more open atmosphere\'
TEHRAN - Iran's former president Mohammad Khatami, who is under a media ban for supporting reformist candidates in the 2009 presidential election, on Tuesday urged fewer restrictions and a more open atmosphere.
The comments, in a statement published on Khatami's website, follow an influential strategic role he played in February 26 elections in which reformists won many parliamentary seats.
Iranian media are not allowed to use pictures of Khatami, who was president between 1997 and 2005, or to quote him, because of a ban imposed by Tehran's prosecutor.
The restrictions were imposed after Khatami backed Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the defeated reformist candidates in a disputed presidential vote in 2009 which saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected.
Khatami, however, said the most recent elections showed "we are in and with the system (of the Islamic republic) and do not oppose or have enmity towards anyone", and a "new phase" should begin.
"Compared to the issues after the 2009 election, right now the whole of society and political groups have a relative feeling of satisfaction, although this satisfaction is not complete," he was quoted as saying.
"The security atmosphere and the climate that exists right now... is not befitting to the people of Iran.
"We must all try so that the reputation of the system is not damaged and to have an open atmosphere for everyone's participation, to remove restrictions and limitations."
Reformists largely boycotted parliamentary elections four years ago, because of the arrest of Mousavi, his wife and Karroubi, but Khatami said their participation in last month's polls showed they accepted the rules.
"The participation of these three honourable figures was very influential in encouraging people to come to the ballot boxes.
"Today this situation should be paid attention to. No one should feel in this election that they have been defeated."