Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Iran could scrap the directly elected presidency if necessary.

Khamenei’s comment comes after months of wrangling between hardline conservatives and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The president’s advisers are accused of trying to undermine the clergy.

“If one day, probably in the distant future, it is deemed that the parliamentary system is more appropriate for the election of officials [holding] executive power, there would be no problem in altering the current structure,” says Khamenei in a speech broadcast by state television.

By eliminating direct presidential elections and having parliament choose the president would limit the president’s scope to exert authority in sensitive areas, including foreign policy.

The rift between the president and the supreme leader erupted on 17 April when Ahmadinejad asked Intelligence Minister Heider Moslehi to resign. Khamenei refused to accept his resignation and Ahmadinejad then boycotted his official duties for more than eight days before reappearing on 1 May to hold a cabinet meeting (MEED 8:5:11).