Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in Wednesday for a second term as president nearly two months after a disputed election triggered massive street protests, split Iran's clerical leadership and brought attacks from within his own conservative camp over mistreatment of detained opposition activists.
In streets near parliament, security forces using batons dispersed hundreds of protesters who chanted "Death to the Dictator," witnesses said. Some wore black T-shirts in a sign of grief and others wore green - the color of the opposition movement. A middle-aged woman carried a banner warning Iran's leaders if they do not listen to people's demands, they will face the same fate as Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was toppled in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Key opposition leaders, moderate lawmakers and all three of Ahmadinejad's election challengers boycotted the swearing in ceremony. State-run Press TV said more than 5,000 security forces deployed around the parliament building and police with sniffer dogs patrolled the area after the opposition called for demonstrations to coincide with the inauguration.
In his inaugural address, Ahmadinejad seemed to tone down his often-bellicose rhetoric and emphasized his plans to improve the faltering economy. He demanded that Iran be on an equal footing with other world powers and denounced foreign interference. The government has accused the US and the West of backing street protests.
"We must play a key role in the management of the world," Ahmadinejad said. "We will not remain silent. We will not tolerate disrespect, interference and insults," he added. "I will spare no effort to safeguard the frontiers of Iran." He did not directly address President Barack Obama's outreach for the start of a dialogue on Iran's contentious nuclear program, which the US suspects is geared toward producing weapons. But he said: "Iran is a nation of logic, dialogue and constructive interaction. The basis of our foreign policy is wide and constructive contacts with all nations and independent governments based on justice, respect and friendship." The US administration has given Iran a vague deadline of September to respond positively to the outreach or face stiffened sanctions.