Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday he is suffering from exhaustion and two allies said he was suffering under the strain of his job, in a rare disclosure apparently designed to combat rumors the hardline leader is more seriously ill.
A parliament member who confirmed Ahmadinejad's illness accused opponents of using it as an excuse to cast doubt on whether the increasingly unpopular president will run for a second term next year.
The months ahead are critical for Ahmadinejad if he wants to try to rebuild his political base and rebut critics who point to his unfulfilled campaign promises, including his pledge to extend Iran's oil revenues to poorer provinces around the country.
With more than 10 percent unemployment and 30 percent inflation, Iran was unable to bask in record-high oil prices earlier this year. And now with oil prices falling, Iran is certain to face a budget squeeze that could severely complicate Ahmadinejad's last months before he faces re-election.