Ahmadinejad dismisses 3 ministers to shrink cabinet

AFP , Saturday 14 May 2011

Ahmadinejad streamlining 3 more ministries causes another row between him and Iran’s parliament

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday dismissed three ministers whose portfolios are being merged with other ministries as part of a cabinet streamlining, his office's website announced.

Those who lose their jobs include Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi, whose responsibilities are being merged with the energy ministry. Iran is OPEC's second largest crude exporter and currently holds the cartel's presidency.

Welfare Minister Sadeq Mahsouli and Industries Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian also go, as their responsibilities are merged with the labour and commerce ministries, respectively.

The departures are part of a streamlining of the cabinet provided for under Iran's development plan for 2010-2015, which requires the number of posts to be cut from 21 to 17.

Transport Minister Hamid Behbahani already lost his job in February when he failed to survive an impeachment motion in parliament. His responsibilities have been merged with the housing ministry.

The mechanics of the downsizing have been a source of tension for weeks between the president and parliament.

Ahmadinejad says that cabinet appointments are his prerogative but parliament insists it must approve the new portfolios and who holds them.

A widely reported war of words erupted this week between Ahmadinejad and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani on the issue, before Iran's powerful Guardians Council intervened and sided with parliament on Thursday.

The Guardians Council oversees elections, interprets the constitution and vets parliamentary legislation.

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