Iran’s former reformist President Mohammad Khatami on Sunday admitted that reforms have reached a deadlock in his country and urged returning to the constitution of the “Islamic Republic.”
Khatami’s stance goes against his ally Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who has called for reforming the constitution and proposed an alternative to the current government.
As the 44th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution approaches, Khatami said that the Iranian society is beset by many troubles, but he called for a return to the constitution.
“Changing and amending the constitution is in order, but by returning to the spirit of the same constitution, many reforms can be made,” said Khatami according to Iranian media.
Unlike Khatami, Mousavi called for drafting a new constitution and submitting it to a popular referendum for a “free and fair” vote. Mousavi said that the aim of doing so is changing the power dynamics and the current formula of the country’s system of government.
“What is evident today is widespread discontent,” said Khatami, according to AFP.
Khatami said he hoped that the use of “non-violent civil methods” could “force the governing system to change its approach and accept reforms.”
The former president also implicitly referred to the widening gap between the establishment and the rest of the people, especially the protesters, the majority of whom are young people.
President from 1997 to 2005 before being forced into silence, Khatami said he regretted that Iran’s population was “disappointed with Reformism as well as with the ruling system.”
Khatami rejected demands to overthrow the regime and said: “In terms of the balance of power and the capabilities and strength of the state, it is not possible to overthrow (the regime).”
He warned that raising slogans for overthrowing the establishment will only lead to more restrictions and damages.
Khatami's statements came after Mousavi sharply criticized the ruling establishment and called for a new constitution and a popular referendum.