By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
Several "personalities" of the Iranian establishment and a number of lawmakers have sent a letter to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that apparently suggests moves that could dilute the powers of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. That is according to a report by the website Fardanews, which is said to be close to Tehran Mayor Mohammad Qalibaf.
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (right) has been weakened in his power struggles with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (left).
The website quotes a former lawmaker who didn't want to be named as saying that the letter had been received by Khamenei but that he hadn't responded yet.
"We're still waiting," he was quoted as saying.
The report comes two days after the government daily "Iran" claimed that two former ministers who were dismissed by Ahmadinejad have written to "a top official of the establishment" (Khamenei) calling for the setting up of a committee with the participation of the heads of the three branches of power and other senior officials for managing the country's executive affairs during the next year, which is the final year of Ahmadinejad's two-term presidency.
The paper claimed the two former ministers made the suggestion while citing the "sensitive and critical situation" of the country.
Fardanews reports that the letter signed by senior establishment officials and sent to Khamenei contains a similar suggestion.
A day after the story in "Iran" was published, former Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki reacted by saying that it was full of mistakes. Former Interior Minister Mostafa Pur-Mohammadi and other former officials mentioned in the report have been silent. "Iran" reported that apparently former Finance Minister Davud Danesh Jaafari and the former head of the state planning agency, Farhad Rahbar, also signed the letter.
Ahmadinejad, described as the most divisive figure in the Islamic republic, has come under fire by conservatives over his handling of the economy and inflation. The Iranian president has been weakened following his power struggle with Khamenei and his allies.
Three weeks ago, Iranian media reported that nine lawmakers had, in a letter to parliament speaker Ali Larijani, called for the creation of a committee with representatives of "all state bodies" and with "special authority" to manage the country's economy.
The story in "Iran" was partly confirmed by an "informed source" who spoke to Farda and said that some former executives had sent a letter to Khamenei. But the source added that the letter did not go as far as reported by the government daily. "The newspaper has attempted to push its own [interests] through blackmail," the website quoted the source as saying.
Another website, Baztab, suggested that sources close to Ahmadinejad had leaked the story in order to "burn" the project.
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