Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against economic policies which would further fuel inflation, media reported.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to plan on keeping the top job for a second four-year term but called on him to keep better control of inflation, official media said on Sunday.
"Do not think that this year is your last year as head of the government. No. Act as if you will stay in charge for five years," he told members of the government on Saturday, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"Imagine that this year, plus the four that follow, you will be in charge, and plan and act accordingly," he said.
It is the first time Khamenei, who has the final say on all the country's affairs, has made such a statement of support for Ahmadinejad and is likely to put off potential challengers in 2009 presidential elections.
In an apparent comparison with the reformist presidency of Mohammad Khatami, he also praised Ahmadinejad's government for "blocking dangerous trends of Western intoxication and secularism which were infiltrating the country's administration."
However, he warned Ahmadinejad against economic policies which would further fuel inflation.
In comments carried by Kargozaran newspaper, Khamenei also warned during a meeting with Ahmadinejad and his cabinet against undermining the government, which has faced intense criticism over inflation, galloping at 26 percent.
Ahmadinejad welcomed Khamenei's endorsement, saying he and his government would wear it as a "medal of pride."
"The guide of the revolution, as always but more clearly and more strongly than ever before, has given his support to his revolutionary children," the president said.
"I hope that these comments in support of the government's actions will put an end to the propaganda being spread against it," he added.
Khamenei also backed Ahmadinejad's economic initiative, mainly aimed at redirecting billions of dollars of state subsidies towards lower income groups, but also cautioned against its hasty implementation.
"If part of this plan fuels inflation, a way must be found to prevent this or control any negative aspects," he said, nonetheless describing the plan as an "important job which definitely has to be carried out."
The all-powerful leader said previous administrations had had his backing as well, "but the current government's characteristics mean it has warmer support."
"Denying its positive aspects and highlighting weaknesses and constantly speaking against it is sabotage, not criticism," Khamenei said.
Many economists blame Ahmadinejad for fuelling inflation by ploughing huge amounts of cash into local infrastructure projects.
There has been a sharp increase in money supply growth -- an annual indicator of inflation trends -- which reached nearly 39 percent in a year under Ahmadinejad.
The president, whose term ends in a year, ran a bread and butter campaign in 2005 vowing to make the poor benefit from Iran's oil wealth.
He has faced mounting criticism from reformists and many fellow conservatives over his handling of the economy, with several top clerics also calling on him to control soaring prices.
Date created : 2008-08-24