Tehran – Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei has advised former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, without naming him, not to run for the country’s upcoming presidential elections.
The instructions of Khamenei would probably destroy Ahmadinejad’s chances for getting the popular support needed for his reelection.
The conservative camp in Iran said on Monday it was likely that Ahmadinejad would not run for the elections on May 2017, following the comments of Khamenei.
“Someone, a man, came to me. I did not tell him not to participate,” Khamenei said, adding: “I told him not to take part in that certain issue, both for his own and the country’s good.”
Khamanei, who has the final say in the country’s affairs, said: “This will create bipolar opposites and divisions in the country, which I believe is harmful.”
Former Fars News Agency Director Mehdi Fazaeli, close to the conservatives, said: “The statements of the Supreme leader reflect his opposition to Ahmadinejad’s participation in the presidential run, and therefore, all revolution forces should abide by his decision.”
Current President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected in 2013, is expected to run for his last four-year presidential term. Until now, no candidate or figure from the conservative camp has yet presented his candidacy for next year’s elections.
However, Mayor of Tehran Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf might rerun for elections, after he had run for the presidency in 2005 and 2013.
Ahmadinejad was first elected president in 2005. In 2009, the supreme leader supported the candidacy of Ahmedinejad, whose election at the time created a wave of objections.
Conservative lawmaker Mohammad Reza Mir Taj who worked as a vice president in parliamentary affairs for Ahmadinejad, was quoted by Fars as saying: “Revolutionary forces should respect the directives of the supreme leader and prepare for the elections in a new mood.”
In a linked development, the Department of Publications in Iran has summoned photographer Mona Hoobehfekr, after she published a photo of Khamenei while delivering a speech at the U.N. General Assembly in New York to a poor audience.
Hoobehfekr works at the Iranian Students’ News Agency. Her famous photo taken last week at the U.N., showed that around 39 presidents and state representatives have attended the supreme leader’s speech, out of 192 countries. The photo drove a wave of criticism on social media and news websites. The Iranian photographer might face a punishment because the photo was spread among international media outlets.