NEW YORK – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fallen ill due to his heavy workload, a close associate told the Iranian state news agency late Saturday, as doubts surface about whether he will run for another term.
Parliament member Mohammad Ismail Kowsari, an ally of the president, told IRNA that Ahmadinejad is feeling under the weather because of the strain of his position.
"The president will eventually get well and continue his job," said Kowsari, who last September accompanied the president on his trip to the U.N. General Assembly. "Every human being can face exhaustion under such a workload."
The Iranian president reportedly works a 20-hour day. Kowsari accused his opponents of using Ahmadinejad's exhaustion as an excuse to spread rumors about whether he will run for a second term in the June 2009 elections.
"Those who use such a natural issue for psychological warfare will fail" to gain support in public opinion, he said.
(The State Department told FOX News it has no information on reports on Ahmadinejad's health.)
In the past weeks, supporters of Ahmadinejad have been discussing potential candidates for the next presidential election, implying that the sitting president is not their automatic choice.
All previous Iranian presidents completed both their terms, except the first one, Abolhasan Banisadr, who fled the country in 1981.
The months ahead are critical for Ahmadinejad to try to rebuild his political base and rebut critics pointing to his unfulfilled campaign promises, including extending the wealth of Iran's oil revenue to poorer provinces around the country.
With over 10 percent unemployment and 30 percent inflation, Iran has been unable to bask in record-high oil prices — which are just barely covering domestic subsidies.
Ahmadinejad is also confronting questions about his uncompromising stance with the West over Iran's nuclear program, which has severely soured international relations.