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Last Updated: Monday, 21 January 2008, 18:43 GMT
Khamenei snubs Iranian president
Snowy street in Tehran 6/1/08
Iran has been hit by severe blizzards causing major disruption
Iran's supreme leader has overruled its president by ordering him to implement a law to supply gas to remote villages.

Iran is having its coldest weather in years and parliament had ratified a law to release extra funds to supply gas to rural areas undergoing shortages.

But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refused to implement it, prompting the speaker to appeal to the supreme leader.

A BBC correspondent says Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's action is a rare public humiliation for President Ahmadinejad.

Jon Leyne in Tehran says President Ahmadinejad has come in for growing criticism over his handling of the crisis.

The main problem has been shortage of gas, which has led to gas pressure being lowered, or supplies cut off altogether in some places.

The supreme leader agreed that the law should be implemented and his letter ordering that it should was read out in the parliament.

Threat of war

About 64 people are reported to have died and tens of thousands have been stranded by severe blizzards.

The temperature has fallen as low as -24C and for the first time in living memory there has been snow in the country's southern deserts.

Critics of the president have become more vocal as the threat of war with the US or Israel over Iran's nuclear activities appears to have receded.

The political battle is heating up with parliamentary elections in two months, our correspondent says.

SEE ALSO
Faulty heaters kill many in Iran
16 Jan 08 |  Middle East
Snow causes many deaths in Asia
11 Jan 08 |  South Asia
Dozens killed in Iran blizzards
09 Jan 08 |  Middle East
Deadly blizzards bring Asia chaos
09 Jan 08 |  South Asia
Iran suffers heavy snowfall
08 Jan 08 |  World
Ahmadinejad scorns US and Israel
18 Jan 08 |  Middle East
Country profile: Iran
07 Dec 00 |  Country profiles



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