Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami says current president Hassan Rohani is under serious pressure from his political opponents as he deals with political and cultural issues.

The Etemad daily writes that according to Khatami, President Rohani’s opponents are trying to tell him: “we are still here and have power and will not let things happen the way you want them to.”

Khatami reportedly said during a meeting with university students: “They try in every field in which they have influence to have their way, even over the issue of nuclear negotiations. However, fortunately, the leader is providing good support and wants the issues to be resolved honourably while also protecting national and revolutionary interests.”

He added that in areas where there is no support from the leader, the adverse effect of Rohani’s opponents has been more evident.

The former president said the administration could have tried to take better steps to facilitate the release of MirHosein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi, the challengers of the 2009 election who triggered widespread mass protests. He added, however, that the government does not actually have much power in this area.

Mousavi, Rahnavard and Karroubi have been under house arrest since 2011.

Khatami also criticized Parliament’s actions against President Rohani and expressed hope that the coming election will lead to a Parliament that better represents the majority of society.

Parliament has been very tough on President Rohani’s choices for ministers, forcing him to change his appointments.