Long hours fell prez.
President Ahmadi-nejad Sunday denied rumors he was seriously ill and instead said he was merely suffering from exhaustion related to his long hours.
Photos showed him clearly weary with aides helping to prop him up. One of his cabinet ministers said he suffered from low blood pressure and had periodically checked into a hospital during his presidency.
Majlis Deputy MohammadEsmail Kowsari confirmed Ahmadi-nejad's exhaustion but charged opponents were trying to paint the president as seriously ill to cast doubt on whether he would run for reelection next June.
"Those who use such a natural issue for psychological warfare will fail" to gain support, Kowsari said.
"The president will eventually get better and continue working," said Kowsari, who accompanied Ahmadi-nejad last month to the U.N. General Assembly. "Every human being can face exhaustion under such a workload."
Ahmadi-nejad, who is continued on page nine known for long hours and little sleep, has low blood pressure and has gone to the hospital occasionally to seek treatment, according to MohammadHossain Saffar-Harandi, the minister of culture and Islamic guidance.
"Even if you are immortal, you will suffer from working so much.... That is what has happened several times to the president over the last few years. However, he is up and about and fresher than us right now," Harandi told reporters Sunday, adding that it was not unusual for Ahmadi-nejad to work 21hour days. He said that blood "pressure dropping, going to the ICU [intensive care unit] and receiving intravenous [treatment] has happened to him before and does happen."
In May, Ahmadi-nejad failed to appear at scheduled events in three consecutive weeks, including a rally where he was due to meet voters face-to-face. But aides then dismissed rumors that the president failed to show up due to health problems, and instead blamed a crowded schedule.
Rumors that Ahmadinejad is seriously ill have been circulating on some opposition websites for months. When the president--who turned 53 Monday--canceled a speech last Wednesday and failed to appear at a cabinet meeting that same day, the chatter reemerged.
Ahmadi-nejad did, however, attend a religious ceremony on Saturday in Tehran, though he looked tired as he greeted supporters. State TV also showed him receiving the credentials of three foreign ambassadors the following day.
"Thank God, I do not have an illness. Exhaustion is possible, but no illness," Ahmadinejad told a reporter on the sidelines of a meeting in Tehran. The footage was aired on state television Sunday night. "Of course, we are also human beings, and sometimes we catch a cold," he said.