Designated by Ayatullah Khomeini as his heir until an eleventh-hour falling out, the 87-year-old Montazeri remains one of the regime's most feared critics. In a public statement, the cleric whose theological standing makes him a more authoritative religious figure than Khamenei, strongly disputed the election outcome, declaring, "No one in his sane mind can accept these results." Though he leads no political faction, his credentials make him a powerful moral voice in the standoff. He spent many years under house arrest in Qom for questioning the principle of clerical rule despite his seniority in the clerical regime.
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