President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was locked in three separate rows with the heads of powerful Iranian institutions on Tuesday amid a mounting backlash against his virulent attacks on opponents.
Ahmadinejad fired off a letter to parliament speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel, furiously denouncing him for an "inexplicable act" in bypassing the presidency by giving the order to implement legislation in an official newspaper.
Meanwhile, the heads of two powerful judiciary bodies lambasted Ahmadinejad for accusing his opponents in a speech last week of forming an economic and political mafia, saying there was no evidence that such networks existed.
The public arguments come ahead of the second round of parliamentary elections on Friday. Ahmadinejad himself must seek re-election in summer 2009 against a background of discontent over high inflation.
"Unfortunately once again your inexplicable act.... created a new opportunity for ill-wishers to pressure and accuse the government," Ahmadinejad said in the letter to Hadad Adel, quoted by the Kargozaran newspaper and other media.
"Is it right to attack the government, which is severely under fire by the corrupt ones for its justice-seeking and obtaining the nation's rights and dignity?" he asked.
"If [your action] was not a clear violation of the constitution, I would never have initiated this correspondence," he added.
Hadad Adel, whose daughter is married to the son of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a powerful figure in Iran who has only occasionally gone public with explicit criticism of the president.
Ahmadinejad made an attack on opponents in a speech in the clerical centre Qom last week that was unprecedented in its vehemence, vowing to "cut their hands" to break networks of economic and political corruption.
"I will go to the end to change and uproot all these corrupt people or who show a lack of determination. I fear nothing," he said.
But Mohammad Niazi, the head of the state inspection organisation, a branch of the judiciary charged with investigating economic and administrative issues, said there was "no record" of the existence of an economic mafia in Iran.
The head of the state organisation for the registration of properties, Hossein Ali Amiri, sent a strongly worded letter to Ahmadinejad complaining of his "surprising and pitiful" accusations.
"Using the word mafia, regardless of its legal international meaning will have an irreversible effect on the administrative and judicial system," he said in the letter quoted by Kargozaran.
Showing he was unafraid of making powerful enemies, Ahmadinejad in the Qom speech also accused "a gentleman who still today has a important post at the centre of power" of controlling a massive cigarette smuggling network.
The Rajanews website which is close to Ahmadinejad said the unidentified individual was a "former military commander", without giving further details.
In the past week, Ahmadinejad has also been under fire from three leading clerics for his economic polices and has been criticised in the press for making excessive changes to his cabinet.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that Economy Minister Davoud Danesh Jaafari was stepping down in the eighth change to the cabinet since Ahmadinejad took power. But there was confusion over the future of Interior Minister Mostafa Pour Mohammadi.
Amid the increasing tensions, Hadad Adel criticised the frequency of the cabinet changes.
"Certainly the repeated changes in the cabinet have negative repercussions," he told the Jam-e Jam newspaper. "If it exceeds the usual limit, then it will cause instability." (AFP)
Ahmadinejad in rows with leading Iran officials