A leading Iranian hardline cleric on Friday urged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to sack his controversial first vice president, saying this was the wish of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The appointment by Ahmadinejad last week of Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as his first deputy has sparked a chorus of opposition from conservatives in Iran, who were outraged when he made pro-Israel comments last year.
“We support the president... but we never said that he has no flaws,” Ahmad Khatami told worshippers in his Friday prayer sermon which was broadcast live on state radio.
“We wish it had never gone this far so that the leader (Khamenei) comments on it. We conscientiously told you (before) to revise the appointment of first vice president,” he added.
“Now that the leader has expressed his opinion, there is no room to hesitate,” Khatami said, indicating that the supreme leader wants Rahim Mashaie to be dismissed.
Khatami urged Ahmadinejad to “obey (the leader) in the quickest time.”
Iran’s main political arbitration body, the Expediency Council, too joined the groundswell of opinion against Rahim Mashaie, calling on Ahmadinejad on Friday not to cause discord in his administration by persisting with his appointment.