Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the country’s top politicians to focus on their job and avoid disagreements that may “feed the foreign media’s propaganda.”
“Differences between officials should not lead to discord in actions, or into getting at each other’s throat or efforts to uncover each other’s mistakes,” Khamenei said today according to the state-run Mehr news agency. “I am warning top officials, do your job,” he said. “Be careful not to let minor matters turn into material for scandals.”
Khamenei’s comments, directed at the heads of the government, parliament and judiciary, come as differences between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his political rivals have surfaced in recent weeks. The president and chief justice have exchanged open letters and diatribes over Ahmadinejad’s plans to visit Tehran’s Evin prison, where his press adviser has been held for over a month.
The request was turned down by the judiciary as not “appropriate” in the country’s current political and economic mood, prompting Ahmadinejad to fire off a letter saying he didn’t need permission and accusing the law-enforcement agency of behaving unconstitutionally. Judicial chief Sadegh Larijani responded that the president did not understand the limits of his powers, and barred him from accessing the jail.
A former Khamenei protege, Ahmadinejad has fallen out of favor after challenging the supreme leader’s authority. In March he became the first president in the Islamic republic’s history to be hauled before the parliament and forced to defend his record, while his allies lost ground in this year’s parliamentary elections.
Ahmadinejad, who’s completing his second term and isn’t eligible to run in the June 14 elections, has been the target of mounting criticism including by parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. Ahmadinejad’s rivals have been emboldened by the president’s inability to counter the effects of international sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, which have led to a drop in the currency’s value and soaring inflation.
“From now on and until the elections, anyone who uses people’s emotions to create divisions would have betrayed the nation,” Khamenei was quoted as telling today an audience of university students.
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