In another indication of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's shrinking support in the Islamic Republic establishment, Iran's Guardian Council, which is charged with guarding the constitution, announced today that the president cannot act as caretaker of the oil ministry, Fars news agency reports.
Ahmadinejad has been at odds with the parliament and the Guardian Council over the process of merging eight ministries into four. The disputes came after the president had to back away from his attempt to change the leadership at the ministry of intelligence.
Iran's Supreme Leader immediately overruled Ahmadinejad's decision to dismiss Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi. The president responded by ignoring cabinet meeting and public duties for 10 days.
The embattled Ahmadinejad then became the target of parliamentary criticism over his handing of the ministry mergers. Parliament insisted that it had to be consulted by the president as he dismisses and appoints ministers.
The Guardian Council backed Parliament's position, and Ahmadinejad then announced that all disputes had been solved after a meeting with the parliamentary speaker and the Supreme Leader.
Ahmadinejad then proceeded to dismiss the ministers of oil, social affairs and industry and mining, appointing caretaker ministers to all three; that included himself as the interim head of the oil ministry.
The Guardian Council's ruling -- that it's unconstitutional for the president to head the oil ministry -- comes after Iran's representative to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries had already announced that Ahmadinejad will attend the OPEC meeting in Vienna in June. Since Iran currently holds the OPEC presidency, Ahmadinejad is also eligible to chair the meeting.
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