TEHRAN, May 2 (UPI) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tried to fire his intelligence minister because he was spying on a potential presidential successor, sources said.
An official in the conservative Islamic Coalition Party tells the Los Angeles Times that Ahmadinejad tried to sack Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi because the intelligence agency was allegedly spying on Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a close aide to the president.
Mashaei was described by the Times as a relative to the president by marriage and was rumored to be a top candidate to replace Ahmadinejad when his term expires in 2013.
"Putting Mashaei and his cronies under surveillance was also likely under the auspices of the supreme leader (Ali Khamenei)," the source added.
Khamenei reportedly tried to block Ahmadinejad from dismissing Manouchehr Mottaki from the position of foreign minister while Mottaki was on an official trip to Senegal in December. Khamenei successfully blocked the firing of Moslehi, the Times adds.
Ahmadinejad took part in Cabinet meetings during the weekend in an effort to ease speculation of rifts with the supreme leader.