09/27/2016, 10.18
IRAN

Tehran, Khamenei clips Ahmadinejad’s presidential ambitions: no to third term

The Grand Ayatollah advises against the ultra-conservative leader’s running for president in 2017. His presence threatens to polarize the country, an "evil" for "everyone." Ahmadinejad in recent months had returned to the public arena. According to his supporters he will obey, despite himself, the dictates of the supreme leader.  They had already clashed in the past.

 

Teheran (AsiaNews) - The Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is opposed to a third term as Iranian president for the ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In recent months, sources close to the highest Shiite authority had leaked his opposition to the candidacy of the former head of state (in office 2005-2013) in the elections of May 29, 2017. Yesterday, in a speech before a group of students and loyalists, Khamenei  himself spoke of his opposition.

The words uttered by the highest religious authority in the Islamic Republic would appear to have put an end to Ahmadinejad's ambitions: "A man [although not explicitly named the reference to the former president is inherent] came to see me. Considering - added Khamenei - his interests and those of the country, we told him: 'I do not find it appropriate for you to participate [in the vote]. "

To mitigate the resounding rejection of the conservative leader, who still enjoys a following among the rural masses and the poorest, Khamenei added that his words are not an "order" or "directive", but rather a "council." A specification that is used to save the face, but not the substance of his intent.

"If you participate - these are the words of the grand ayatollah, reported on his official website - the country risks becoming polarized and this is of benefit to no one”.

Analysts and experts point out that, in this way, Ali Khamenei has attempted to stop the rumor mill and the multiple speculations that followed his meeting with Ahmadinejad and stop his running for president next year.

Recently, various high profile personalities of the conservative Islamic Republic, including former deputy Speaker of Parliament Mohammad-Reza Bahonar, had called for a face-off between the two. It was no secret that they had hoped the highest religious authority would put a stop to the renewed  - and in no way hidden - pretensions of Ahmadinejad's leadership.

The latter in recent months had stepped up his meetings and public interventions to reboot his image in different provinces of the country. Thus reinforcing the opinion of those who were willing to bet on his return to political life and presidential candidacy.

Khamenei’s clear stance - and public - is a turning point for the Islamic Republic, because never before has the highest religious authority opposed a politician’s candidacy.

So far there has been no official statement of Ahmadinejad's position, although on his official website a message appeared that mentions that "according to [the principles] of the [Iranian] revolution, the state and the [political system] belong to the people." However, according to reports from a loyalist (former ultraconservative MP Hamid Razayi) he will obey - against his will -  Khamenei ‘s dictates.

Moreover, the figure of the former president is still a source of dispute and conflict: in 2009 his re-election had sparked huge demonstrations by the reformist wing, which were violently suppressed. And in 2011 he had retired for ten days from active political life, in sharp contrast to Khamenei's decision to veto the dismissal of intelligence chief Heydar Moslehi.

The last public appearance of Ahmadinejad dates back to September 22, during a speech at Mahmoudieh mosque in Tehran. He still enjoys the support of the Pasdaran and the conservative wing has always opposed the nuclear deal with the United States signed by President Hassan Rouhani which has failed to have any positive effects for the country. In recent months, many observers have noted the "strange alliance" between the US and Iranian fundamentalists in wanting to scuttle the nuclear deal. A move aimed at discrediting the actions of the current leadership, thus boosting the possible candidacy of Ahmadinejad and the subsequent (forced) exclusion of Tehran from  negotiating table of the international community.

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