Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a meeting with Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani has agreed to the process proposed by Larijani on the merger of six cabinet-level departments into three and on choosing their new ministers.
[UPDATE: IRNA reported that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, was present and presided over the meeting between the heads of the executive and legislative branches. The meeting took place on Friday.]
Kayhan reported today that Ahmadinejad will now send a bill to Majlis for its approval on merging the departments and would later ask Majlis for vote of confidence on ministerial nominees to head the new enlarged departments [Kayhan, 24 May].
The process involves the merger of ministries of Oil and Energy, Commerce and Mines and Industries, and Labor and Social Welfare. Ahmadinejad had issued executive orders to merge these departments and had chosen ministers in charge of the newly enlarged departments. He had claimed his authority on a bill passed by Majlis a couple of months ago requiring the government to reduce the number of its cabinet departments by four.
Larijani vehemently objected to Ahmadinejad’s move, insisting that the president needed the parliamentary approval for the mergers and a vote of confidence for each new minister. Ahmadinejad refused Larijani’s request, accusing him as acting as a law unto himself. The Guardian Council, led by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, on Wednesday sided with Larjani. And Ahmadinejad has now fully accepted the process set by Larijani.
To students of Iranian politics, the outcome of this latest round of power struggle between the president, as head of the executive branch, and other senior leaders of the Islamic Republic, looks to be a second major loss for Ahmadinajad in as many weeks. Last week, Ahmadinejad was ordered by the supreme leader to reinstate the minister of intelligence he had fired earlier and now he is forced to accept Larijani’s views on how to proceed with the mergers of the ministries and the selection of new ministers.