The common perception up until the 2013 Iranian presidential election has been that Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani has been incrementally sidelined from positions of power ever since leaving the presidency in 1997. Although Rafsanjani is often referred to as one of the founding fathers of the Islamic Republic, his public positions on the 2009 election protests brought out into the open his many disagreements with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As a result, he lost his position as head of the Assembly of Experts and temporary Tehran Friday prayer leader, and was the target of constant attacks by hard-liners in the administration and Sepah, the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
On April 16, Saham News, a website close to Mehdi Karroubi, published an article which quoted an anonymous source who was present at a meeting between the head of the Expediency Council, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and provincial governors during Rafsanjani’s and Mohammad Khatami’s presidencies. The following day, the public-relations department of the Expediency Council denied the reports attributed to Rafsanjani.