Tehran, June 5 (ANI): Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has blasted the country’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for labeling his critics corrupt during a furious television debate on Wednesday.
Ahmadinejad traded charges with his main opponent in the upcoming presidential elections Mir Hossein Mousavi.
“One doesn’t like to see a nominee, for the sake of proving himself, seeking to negate somebody else,” The Guardian quoted Khamenei as saying in a speech commemorating the 20th death anniversary of Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini.
“I have no problem with debate, dialogue and criticism, but these debates must take place within a religious framework,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
Khamenei has previously given Ahmadinejad his public backing and his support is considered essential if the president is to win a second term.
Ahmadinejad may have been relieved to note that the supreme leader also found fault with his rival’s rhetoric, particularly a segment where Mousavi criticised the incumbent for his “extremist” foreign policy.
Ahmadinejad’s accusations of corruption prompted a string of senior figures – including former president Hashemi Rafsanjani – to demand a right of reply.
Apparently trailing in the opinion polls, Ahmadinejad attempted to link Mousavi – the main reformist candidate – to the past governments of Rafsanjani and the reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatam, which he said had been guilty of widespread graft.
Among others, he singled out Rafsanjani’s sons as well as Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, the current head of the supreme leader’s inspectorate.
Khamenei’s criticisms echoed those of Mousavi, who told Ahmadinejad during the debate: “This is a sin. We are Muslims, we believe in God. We cannot name people like that and accuse them.”
The most remarkable part of an acerbic encounter came when Ahmadinejad held up a file apparently referring to Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and questioned her qualifications.
Mousavi, taken aback, replied by telling viewers that they should vote for him “if you want to change this atmosphere of so easily accusing other people”. (ANI)