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Ahmadinejad Office Rejects Iran Reports of Khamenei Ultimatum

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s office rejected media reports that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded he openly back the intelligence minister or step down.

Newspapers, including Tehran-based Shargh, have reported there is a widening rift between Iranian leaders, reflected by Ahmadinejad’s dispute with his minister, Heidar Moslehi. The Tehran-based Aftab newspaper on May 5 said Khamenei issued an ultimatum to Ahmadinejad to support the minister, citing Parliamentary member Morteza Agha-Tehrani.

“This news is wrong and it’s hereby rejected,” the president’s office said in a statement published late yesterday on its website. “We request all media to avoid publishing unofficial news about the president.”

Khamenei -- the country’s highest authority -- last month reinstated Moslehi, whose resignation had earlier been accepted by the president. Ahmadinejad stayed away from official meetings for a week following the reinstatement, though he denied there were conflicts when he returned to work on May 2. He didn’t elaborate on his absence and has yet to back the reinstatement.

In a sermon in Tehran yesterday, senior cleric Kazem Sedighi urged the president to submit to the will of Khamenei, the state-run Fars news agency reported.

“If the supreme leader oversees the work of the president it is because he knows what is best for the nation and the government and as a guardian he controls the situation so that no one will deviate,” Sedighi told a gathering in Tehran.

“Mr. President, you said that you would bring the enemies to their knees through your obedience to the supreme leader. But words are not enough for us, we are waiting for action,” Sedighi said. “The people voted for you because of your obedience to the leader and you must show this in practice.”

Ahmadinejad was re-elected in June 2009 amid fraud allegations, which sparked days of protests. Islamic leaders responded by authorizing the use of force, arresting thousands, while Khamenei backed Ahmadinejad saying his victory was a “celebration” for the nation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Tehran at lnasseri@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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