Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s refusal so far to withdraw Esfandia Mashie’s appointment as his first vice president has put him on uncharted territory, picking a fight with ultra-conservatives and the fundamentalists, his political base.
Ultra-conservative Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami (not to be confused with the former president Mohammad Khatami) warned Ahmadinejad today that he must heed to the wished of the supreme leader and withdraw the appointment.
“When the exalted supreme leader takes a position explicitly, his statement must be accepted by all means and implemented immediately,” Ahmad Khatami told Mehr news agency. “Those who voted for Ahmadinejad because of his loyalty to the supreme leader expect the president to show his obedience in practice” [AP translation of Mehr report].
In picking fight with the fundamentalists before he has even formed his new government, Ahmadinejad might want to improve his fading public image in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election and divert attentions from the main issue at hand, request for a national referendum on the election results.