Iran’s president asked to show obedience to leader


TEHRAN, Iran — A hard-line cleric warned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Friday to end an escalating power struggle with Iran’s supreme leader, calling it a religious obligation to do so and accusing the country’s enemies of trying to sow rifts among its leadership.

The split threatens to destabilize Iran at a time of tension with the West over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program and appears to center on a battle for influence between the two men over next year’s parliamentary election and a presidential election in 2013.

“Obedience to the supreme leader is a religious obligation as well as a legal obligation, without any doubt,” said Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami. He did not mention Ahmadinejad by name, but it was clear he was referring to the president.

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