Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ahmadinejad Appoints an Acting Oil Minister

Backs Down In Face of Strong Opposition to Assume Control of Oil Ministry

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today appointed Mohammad Aliabadi as the Acting Oil Minister, ending a constitutional crisis over the issue of whether a sitting president could assume the responsibilities of one of his cabinet departments. Ahmadinejad had insisted that he could appoint himself as the acting oil minister. The Guardian Council, the country’s constitutional watchdog, had ruled that the president’s move was unconstitutional.

Yesterday, Majlis, the Iranian parliament, passed a resolution by an overwhelming majority calling Ahmadinejad’s action “illegal” and referred him to Judiciary, a major step in preparation of an impeachment process against a president. Today, Ahmadinejad backed down and appointed an acting minister.

Mohammad Aliabadi, the new acting oil minister, is the former director of Iran's National Sports Organization and the president of the country’s National Olympic Committee. Aliabadi’s 15-minute claim to fame came when he filed a formal protest against London’s 2012 Olympic Logo, saying the logo was reminiscent of the word ‘Zion’ and therefore racist.

Meanwhile, IRGC Brig. Gen. Rostam Ghasemi, the commander of Khatamolanbia Base, the industrial arm of the revolutionary guards, told IRNA minutes after the appointment of the acting oil minister that he was asked to accept the post and he was still considering the offer.

The acting oil minister will preside over the 8 June OPEC meeting in Vienna as Iran holds the rotating presidency of the organization. Ahmadinejad’s conservative critics wanted at all costs to prevent him using the prestigious platform as the spokesman for all oil producing nations to his political advantage. They produced a ruling by the Guardian Council and a resolution by Majlis to force him give up the position.

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