Advisor to Iran’s Khamenei urges election of president aligned with supreme leader

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A senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei urged Iranians on Wednesday to elect a president who aligns closely with Khamenei’s views in the country’s June 28 presidential election.

The election was expedited following the sudden death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month. Originally scheduled for 2025, the election is now set to replace Raisi, who was known for his loyalty to Khamenei. Raisi’s close relationship with the supreme leader had fueled speculation that he might succeed Khamenei as the next supreme leader.

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On Sunday, the Guardian Council, a body of clerics and jurists overseen by Khamenei that vets all candidates for public office, approved six candidates for the upcoming election.

“We hope that our people, given the lessons of recent years, will choose a president whose views do not conflict with the views of the supreme leader,” the state-linked SNN news agency quoted Yahya Rahim Safavi, a senior advisor to Khamenei, as saying.

The relationship between the supreme leader and the president in Iran has not always been smooth. A notable instance of discord is the strained relationship between Khamenei and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Once a trusted ally of Khamenei, Ahmadinejad has been ostracized by the supreme leader ever since their fallout during Ahmadinejad’s second term (2009-2013).

Ahmadinejad was among those disqualified by the Guardian Council from participating in the upcoming election. This is not the first time the populist politician has faced such a setback, having been barred from running in both 2017 and 2021.

Safavi stressed the importance of electing a president who understands that the supreme leader holds the highest authority in Iran, saying: “The president should consider himself as the second-in-command. If the president says one thing and the supreme leader says something else, this will lead to problems in the country.”

He added that the president’s role is to implement policies, while the supreme leader oversees all branches of government, including the presidency.

In Iran, the supreme leader, rather than the president, holds ultimate authority over all state matters, including foreign policy and the nuclear program. Khamenei, 85, has been Iran’s supreme leader since 1989.

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