Khamenei backs president, wants end to crisis: TV


Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday backed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government and called for an end to the crisis within the ruling conservative camp, state television said.

"While there are weakness and problems ... the composition of the executive branch is good and appropriate, and the government is working. The government and parliament must help each other," Mr. Khamenei said.

"When a law is passed, the government must implement it with full power and without any excuse," Mr. Khamenei, who has the final say in the Islamic republic, told the Iranian parliament.

"Friendship and tolerance are necessities in the country and in the interaction between the parliament and the government," he told Iran's conservative-dominated legislature.

Mr. Ahmadinejad withdrew from public life for 10 days in late April in protest at Ayatollah Khamenei's veto of his decision to dismiss Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi. The news of Mr. Khamenei reinstating Mr. Moslehi came very shortly after the sacking was announced.

The showdown triggered a political crisis within the conservatives in Iran's political hierarchy, with the ultra-religious conservatives denouncing president Ahmadinejad's decision as a threat to the regime and urging him to toe the line.

Both sides have linked this incident to a battle for control of the intelligence ministry before the parliamentary elections set to take place in March 2012.

The president and his entourage have not concealed their intention to present their own list of candidates to run against the current conservative majority in the parliament.

The ultra-conservatives, among them the clerics and parliamentarians, denounced president Ahmadinejad's boycott of his public duties in response to Mr. Khamenei's intervention to reinstate Mr. Moslehi and urged him to return to the "right path" and obey Khamenei.

They virulently attacked Mr. Ahmadinejad's cabinet, in particular his chief of staff and closest confidant Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie for being too liberal, too nationalistic and for wielding too much influence on the president.

"The current of deviation... seeks to use its money and power to influence the upcoming election," General Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of the powerful Guards said on Saturday in reference to the legislative polls.

Over the past month, ultra-conservatives have repeatedly called for Mr. Mashaie's dismissal, blaming him for "a current of deviancy" they say is afflicting the government.

Mr. Ahmadinejad has publicly announced his allegiance to Ayatollah Khamenei but at the same time staunchly backed Mr. Mashaie and others in his employ.

The battle between government and parliament has heightened in recent months, especially during parliament's debate of the government budget, and the scrapping of subsidies on electricity, gas, petrol and bread.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's cabinet reshuffle, aimed at merging the oil and energy portfolios, also caused consternation among conservatives, notably his May 15 decision to assume temporary control of the ministry himself.

Iran derives around 80 percent of its foreign currency earnings by exporting oil and accounts for OPEC's second-largest crude output.