Senior conservative figure Ahmad Karimi Esfahani announced that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was not the candidate of choice for conservatives in 2009 and, in fact, he was forced on them.

Karimi Esfahani, secretary of the Bazaar Merchants Islamic Society, criticized Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for insulting the clergy, parliamentary legislation and throwing the government off track.

In an interview with ILNA on February 24, Karimi stressed that the principalists were forced to support Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential election against their own better judgment.

Earlier, conservative MP Ali Motahari also said: “Ninety percent of principalists did not feel the continuation of the Ahmadinejad administration in 2009 was in the interests of the country but they went against their own judgement for the sole purpose of following the wishes of the Supreme Leader.”

The 2009 election result was challenged by reformist candidates MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, whose allegations of vote fraud prompted millions of Iranians to join mass demonstrations.

The government violently cracked down on protesters, and the two candidates were finally silenced by being put under house arrest in February of 2011.