Iran's Ahmadinejad gives new job to aide seen as possible heir

DUBAI Sun Dec 2, 2012 9:41am IST

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during a media conference at Iran's embassy after he attended the Developing-8 summit in Islamabad November 22, 2012. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during a media conference at Iran's embassy after he attended the Developing-8 summit in Islamabad November 22, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mian Khursheed

Related Topics

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has moved his chief of staff, seen as a potential successor and a target of criticism from hardline conservatives, to another job, according to the president's official website on Saturday.

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie has provoked the ire of Ahmadinejad's conservative rivals, who accuse him of trying to undermine Iran's theocratic system. Ahmadinejad has defended his closest aide throughout the attacks.

In a statement on Saturday, Ahmadinejad thanked Mashaie for his service, appointing him to a position in the Non-Aligned Movement, the 120-member bloc of countries whose rotating chair is held by Iran.

"I consider knowing and working with you to be a divine gift and great honour," Ahmadinejad wrote in the statement addressed to Mashaie.

Ahmadinejad, who has faced criticism from conservative rivals in parliament over his economic performance, is finishing his last year in office and by law cannot run again in presidential elections due in June 2013. Some analysts, and Ahmadinejad's rivals, believe he has been grooming Mashaie to succeed him.

Conservative politicians and allies of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have accused Mashaie of leading a "deviant current" bent on undermining the political role of the clergy, the ultimate authorities in Iran. He has been criticised for emphasising the nationalist strain of Iranian history and culture over religion.

Mashaie recently gave a speech praising Ahmadinejad and expressing hope for "lively" elections, Iranian media reported this week, boosting speculation that he is considering a presidential run.

In a separate letter, Ahmadinejad appointed vice-president Hassan Mousavi to be his new chief of staff. (Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati; editing by Jason Webb)

FILED UNDER:
Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

Barack Obama in India

Reuters Showcase

Obama Arrives

Obama Arrives

Bear hug with Modi gets Obama's India trip off to warm start.  Full Article | Pictures 

Japanese Hostages

Japanese Hostages

Japan condemns apparent IS execution, demands hostage release.  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Pro-Russian rebels attack key port; Ukraine says at least 30 dead.  Full Article 

Australian Open

Australian Open

Nadal, Sharapova charge into quarters as top brass shine.  Full Article 

Row over Film

Row over Film

Group says 'American Sniper' film spurs threats against Muslims.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

Dolly ki Doli is a breezy watch, writes Shilpa Jamkhandikar.  Full Article | Related Story 

Akshay Kumar's Latest

Akshay Kumar's Latest

"Baby" is a smartly written, well-acted film  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage