, TEHRAN, Jul 29 – Iranian hardliners warned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday to obey the country’s all-powerful supreme leader amid a political crisis that has weakened the standing of the re-elected president.
"One should not hesitate in implementing the leader’s order," hardline cleric and vocal Ahmadinejad critic Ahmad Khatami was quoted as saying by the Resalat newspaper.
Ahmadinejad has come under fire even from within his hardline supporters over a number of political decisions since his June re-election which the reformist opposition has branded a fraud.
He sacked Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie reportedly after a quarrel over his choice of a controversial aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as first vice president, an appointment opposed by Khamenei himself.
"Mr Ahmadinejad must apologise to people," said the front-page headline of Yalesarat, a hardline weekly newspaper, in a sign of the sustained pressure from Iran’s conservative wing on the re-elected president.
Another strong warning came from prominent conservative group the Islamic Society of Engineers.
"The people’s continued support for you depends on your unconditional obedience of the supreme leader and departing from this path will have consequences," it said in a letter to Ahmadinejad published on Tuesday.
"It seems you did not consider your best interests by appointing Mr Mashaie as your chief of staff," it said.
Mashaie, who provoked controversy last year for saying Iran was a friend of the Israeli people, subsequently stood down after Khamenei ordered Ahmadinejad to dismiss him.
In another slap in the face for Ahmadinejad, 210 of the country’s 290 MPs signed a statement on Tuesday praising Ejeie and saying he had passed a "great test" in defending Khamenei.