Tumblr Icon RSS Icon

Obama questions legitimacy of Iranian elections, says it is ‘up to the Iranian people to decide’ their leadership.

By Faiz Shakir  

"Obama questions legitimacy of Iranian elections, says it is ‘up to the Iranian people to decide’ their leadership."

Share:

google plus icon

At this afternoon’s press conference, President Obama called on Huffington Post national editor (and TP alum) Nico Pitney, who has been aggregating and reporting valuable information coming out of Iran. Earlier today, Nico told his readers, “If I get called, I want to ask a question that comes directly from an Iranian.” Obama prompted Nico’s question, saying, “I know there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. Do you have a question?” Nico posed this query from an Iranian to the President:

PITNEY: Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad? And if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn’t that a betrayal of — of what the demonstrators there are working to achieve?

Obama responded that there are “significant questions about the legitimacy of the election.” He added:

OBAMA: Ultimately, the most important thing for the Iranian government to consider is legitimacy in the eyes of its own people, not in the eyes of the United States. And that’s why I’ve been very clear, ultimately, this is up to the Iranian people to decide who their leadership is going to be and the structure of their government.

Watch it:

Transcript:

OBAMA: Since we’re on Iran, I know Nico Pitney is here from the Huffington Post.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

OBAMA: Nico, I know that you and all across the Internet, we’ve been seeing a lot of reports coming directly out of Iran. I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. Do you have a question?

QUESTION: Yes, I did, but I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian. We solicited questions on tonight from people who are still courageous enough to be communicating online. And one of them wanted to ask you this: Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad? And if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn’t that a betrayal of — of what the demonstrators there are working to achieve?

OBAMA: Well, look, we didn’t have international observers on the ground. We can’t say definitively what exactly happened at polling places throughout the country.

What we know is that a sizable percentage of the Iranian people themselves, spanning Iranian society, consider this election illegitimate. It’s not an isolated instance, a little grumbling here or there. There is significant questions about the legitimacy of the election.

And so, ultimately, the most important thing for the Iranian government to consider is legitimacy in the eyes of its own people, not in the eyes of the United States.

And that’s why I’ve been very clear, ultimately, this is up to the Iranian people to decide who their leadership is going to be and the structure of their government.

What we can do is to say, unequivocally, that there are sets of international norms and principles about violence, about dealing with the peaceful dissent, that — that spans cultures, spans borders.

And what we’ve been seeing over the Internet and what we’ve been seeing in news reports violates those norms and violates those principles.

I think it is not too late for the Iranian government to recognize that — that there is a peaceful path that will lead to stability and legitimacy and prosperity for the Iranian people. We hope they take it.

Update

Politico’s Michael Calderone complains that “reporters typically don’t coordinate their questions for the president before press conferences, so it seemed odd that Obama might have an idea what the question would be.” White House spokesman Bill Burton acknowledges, “We did reach out to [Nico] prior to press conference to tell him that we had been paying attention to what he had been doing on Iran and there was a chance that he’d be called on.”


Update

,White House officials tell Greg Sargent that they did not know what Nico’s question would be.


Update

,White House officials tell Greg Sargent that they did not know what Nico’s question would be.


Update

Tags:

‹ Hannity Reluctantly Calls On Ensign To Resign

Sen. Gregg, who names his earmarks after himself, says stimulus construction signs are ‘political self-interest.’ ›

By clicking and submitting a comment I acknowledge the ThinkProgress Privacy Policy and agree to the ThinkProgress Terms of Use. I understand that my comments are also being governed by Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policies as applicable, which can be found here.