President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slammed Iran's former premier on Wednesday and accused him of falsely denying charges of corruption and embezzlement, in the latest development of a tit-for-tat spat between the Islamic Republic's senior officials ahead of the upcoming June 12 elections.
Ahmadinejad vowed to respond to Rafsanjani in a 45 minute televised address to the nation and to "expose more of the corruption and thievery [of men of state]," a day after Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani wrote an open letter to Iran's supreme leader to protest the incumbent's accusations that he received financial privileges in the past.
However Iran's Fars news agency said the duration of the televised address would not exceed 25 minutes. Ahmadinejad's address will be aired on Wednesday at 18:00 GMT.
The spat erupted after Ahmadinejad, who is seeking a second term in Friday's election, accused Rafsanjani, his sons and other senior officials of corruption in a stormy televised electoral debate against rival moderate Mir Hussein Mousavi last week, which analysts said was a controversial move against the vanguards of the Islamic Revolution and the regime.
"I ask your eminence [Khamenei], given your position, responsibility and personality, to solve this problem and act in a way you deem right to take effective action in eliminating the mutiny," Rafsanjani wrote to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad's rivals, including Mousavi, conservative Mohsen Rezai and reformist Mehdi Karoubi, decried the allocation of extra air time for the president's new retort and argued "it was unacceptable and unfair" that Ahmadinejad be given more television time than other candidates, especially seeing as Rafsanjani was denied a televised response.
Rafsanjani's letter, released Tuesday, also demanded "a full withdrawal of all the charges leveled against me and my sons."
Rafsanjani warned of social unrest and said: "Even if I keep quiet, part of the people, groups and parties will undoubtedly not bear this situation anymore and set off social upheavals, examples of which can be seen in street rallies and universities."
Rafsanjani, who served as president of the Islamic Republic from 1989-1997, is the chairman of the Assembly of Experts, the body that is charged with electing the Supreme Leader of Iran, giving him influence over Khamenei.
He is also the chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council of Iran, tasked with resolving legislative conflicts between the parliament and Council of Guardians.
(Translated from Arabic by Marwa Awad)