0658 GMT: The Ahmadinejad Speech. "Viva Spring" --- in President Ahmadinejad's explosive speech on Sunday, the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, these were the two words that caught the attention of some Iranians.
An EA correspondent explains, "'Viva Spring' is an expression associated with Ahmadinejad's former Chief of Staff and close friend, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. So, by using it on the day of the Revolution, Ahmadinejad was effectively launching the campaign for Rahim-Mashai to succeed him in June."
Rahim-Mashai, who left his post late last year to work with the Organization of Islamic Co-operation, is is known for the declaration, "We have one spring. That is the Mahdi [Hidden Imam], who will come soon."
BBC Persian summarises the reaction, not all of it positive. MP Mohammad Esmaeel Kothari, a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards, criticized the speech of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said, "If this is a repeated slogan for a candidate for the forthcoming election , it is a clear violation by engineering the election."
"Viva Spring" has appeared elsewhere this week. It was featured on posters by Ahmadinejad's supporters as they greeted him on the President's return from a trip to Egypt. It was shouted by pro-Ahmadinejad men as they broke up the speech, throwing prayer stones and shoes, by the President's rival Ali Larijani yesterday in a Qom mosque.
However, "Viva Spring" was only the start of Ahmadinejad's speech at Azadi Square at Tehran. The President not only gave implicit support to Rahim-Mashai. He accused his opponents --- Larijani; his brother, head of judiciary Sadegh; and even officials close to the Supreme Leader --- of trying to rig the June election, denying Iranians their choice of the "best man".
We post a Special Analysis in a separate entry, "Ahmadnejad Declares Political War".EA WorldView: EA Iran