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On the road, Iran's Khamenei sets stage for a less democratic future

During a nine-day provincial tour, Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei pushed for voter participation in upcoming elections, but also suggested that a directly elected president might become a thing of the past.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves to his supporters before starting his speech in the province of Kermanshah, west of Tehran on Sunday.

khamenei.ir/Reuters

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It looked like business as usual when Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei began a nine-day tour of the western province of Kermanshah last week. But Ayatollah Khamenei appears to be setting the stage for political changes that will further shrivel the democratic aspect of the Islamic Republic.

On the road, as usual, Khamenei excoriated Iran's enemies – the United States, Israel, and all the West – and praised the martyrs of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and the war with Iraq in the 1980s.

Khamenei also seemed to be giving a get-out-the vote pep talk to Iranians in anticipation of parliamentary elections next March, and a presidential vote due in 2013.

"It's the people themselves who decide. They go to the polls, they make their choice; things are run by the people," Khamenei told a large crowd last Wednesday, as he ticked off reasons why Iran's Islamic system was superior and indestructible, according to a simultaneous English translation by state-run PressTV.

All problems, Khamenei said then, were solved because of this "participation, the faith of the people in the Islamic establishment, [their] steadfastness and their loyalty, [so that they] consider themselves the owners and governors of the country."

But by Sunday, those sacred principles appeared to be giving way to a less democratic future.

Khamenei – whose title is meant to confer the authority of God's interim representative on earth – suggested that the post of Iran's directly elected president might be abolished, to be replaced by a premier chosen by parliament.

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