Published: July 19, 2009

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Iran’s reformist former president Mohammad Khatami called Sunday for a referendum on the legitimacy of the government in the wake of last month’s disputed presidential election, Iranian Web sites reported.

Mr. Khatami’s comments amounted to a bold challenge to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has dismissed the opposition’s claims that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s landslide victory on June 12 was rigged, and has ordered protesters to accept it.

It is unlikely that Iran’s hard-line leaders will accept the referendum proposal. But the fact that Mr. Khatami proposed it at all suggests a renewed confidence within the opposition movement.

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