Middle East

Ahmadinejad 'advised not to seek re-election in Iran'

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations headquarters in New York (24 September 2012) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Ahmadinejad is known as a vocal critic of the West

Iran's Supreme Leader has warned former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against running in next year's presidential election, state media report.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is quoted as saying Mr Ahmadinejad should refrain "for his own and the country's good".

Mr Ahmadinejad, a vocal critic of the West, served two terms as president between 2005 and 2013.

He has not announced plans to run again but his recent speeches have prompted speculation of a comeback.

His last win, in 2009, led to big street protests with hundreds of people arrested.

Mr Ahmadinejad was limited to two terms, under the Iranian constitution. He was succeeded by Hassan Rouhani.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Ayatollah Khamenei is said to have effectively vetoed a new bid by Mr Ahmadinejad

Commentators have suggested that he would give Iran's conservatives their best chance of regaining power from the more moderate Mr Rouhani, who last year agreed to curb Iran's nuclear programme in return for the lifting of Western sanctions.

Ayatollah Khamenei's opposition to a bid by Mr Ahmadinejad, if confirmed, would eliminate him as a candidate, correspondents say.

In an audio clip posted on his website, Ayatollah Khamenei said: "Someone, a man, came to me. I told him not to take part in that certain issue [the elections] both for his own and the country's good."

The cryptic remarks were made during a lecture for seminary students.

"I did not tell him not to participate. I said I do not find it advisable that you participate," he said.

"It will create bipolar opposites and divisions in the country, which I believe is harmful."

The state-run Irna news agency and other Iranian media later said that the Ayatollah was clearly referring to Mr Ahmadinejad.

More on this story