The spokesman of President Hassan Rouhani's administration has once again been forced to deny that his boss is going to step down.
Since a Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) passenger plane was hit by two missiles on January 8, over Tehran killing all 176 on board, rumors about Rouhani's resignation have become a mantra in political circles in Iran.
"Rumors about President Rouhani's resignation are unfounded," Ali Rabiei said on Wednesday, February 12, adding, "As I have already written, President Rouhani will be at the service of the people until the end of his term on August 3, 2021. Furthermore, I deny any forthcoming reports concerning his resignation."
Rumors about Rouhani's resignation initially reverberated among so-called reformists in Iran who support the President.
In an interview with Seda Weekly last December, a reformist politician, Abbas Abdi insisted, "No administration or government can or should continue its work…with this level of tension [among the various elements of the state]" and called on Rouhani to resign."
Hardliner allies of the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei immediately accused the proponents of Rouhani's resignation of trying to destabilize the country. At the same time, they barred the candidacy of many prominent reformist for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Now, Rouhani will be left with few allies in the next parliament.
However, since the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' (IRGC) anti-air missiles downed the Ukrainian airliner amid heightened tension between Tehran and Washington, the rumor about Rouhani's resignation has gained momentum.
Immediately after the disaster rumors emerged saying that Rouhani had threatened to step down if the IRGC or its chief commander, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei did not accept responsibility.
It took three days until the Islamic Republic authorities formally accepted responsibility insisting that IRGC missiles "mistakenly" hit the passenger plane.
Nonetheless, none of the officials responsible for the tragedy have resigned so far.