Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today appointed the ministers of Commerce and Labor as caretaker minsters of the departments of Industries and Mines and Social Welfares respectively. The action in effect merged the four cabinet-level departments into two without the approval of Majlis. He is also expected to name the minster of Energy as caretaker of the department of Oil as well, completing the merger plans.
On Friday, Ahmadinejad met with the Speaker of Majlis Ali Larijani in a meeting chaired by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and agreed to seek parliament’s approval for the merger of the departments and vote of confidence for the new ministers. However, hours after the meeting, Ahmadinejad dismissed ministers of Oil, Industries and Mines, and Social Welfare. In his letter to the dismissed ministers, Ahmadinejad said they had been removed from their duties because their departments were eliminated as result of the mergers. The Majlis leadership, including its deputy speaker, strongly objected to the move, saying the parliament had not received nor approved the merger requests. Today's action of effectively merging four of the six departments in question deepens the constitutional and political crisis in the country.