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Iran opposition leader calls for referendum amid protests

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A long-detained opposition leader in Iran is calling for a nationwide referendum about whether to write a new constitution for the Islamic Republic amid nationwide protests shaking the country.

Mir Hossein Mousavi’s call, posted late Saturday by the opposition Kaleme website, included him saying he didn’t believe Iran’s current system giving final say to a supreme leader worked any longer. Those under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have been cracking down on demonstrators since the protests began in September after the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman earlier detained by the country’s morality police.

He also called for the formation of a constitutional assembly of “real representatives” to write a new constitution.

It remains unlikely Iran’s theocracy will heed the 80-year-old politician’s call. He and his wife have been under house arrest for years after his disputed presidential election loss in 2009 led to the widespread Green Movement protests that security forces also put down. However, he himself had supported and served in Iran’s theocracy for decades.

In 2019, Mousavi compared Khamenei to the former Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, whose rule saw troops gun down demonstrators in an event that led to the Islamic Revolution.