a huge crowd in Mashhad. 21 March 2009
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a huge crowd gathered in Mashhad today that his support of the sitting president and his policies to help the poor and fight the global domination should not be interpreted as support for his reelection bid during the upcoming presidential elections.
“My words and actions [in support of government policies] have nothing to do with the elections and do not represent an endorsement.” [21 March, www.leader.ir]
The comments today by Khamenei were an attempt to distance himself from wide-spread belief that he was strongly siding with Ahmadinejad. At one point he had said that Ahmadinejad’s current four-year term as president should not be considered as his last.
Khamenei’s comment will help Hossein Mousavi, a former premier running against Ahmadinejad, with a solid reputation of being a “principlist” on upholding the original goals of the revolution. Ironically, during his long tenure as premier, Mousavi was at odds with Khamenei, who was serving as president, attempting to limit his influence. Mousavi abandoned politics when Khamenei became the leader.
Mousavi’s puritan image and his independence have also brought him a reformist label. Former reformist president Ayatollah Khatami withdrew his candidacy for the 12 June presidential elections in support of Mousavi, putting him I a strong position to gather support from both the reformist and principlist camps.