New Deputy Foreign Minister Forced Out; Sports Nominee Sunk
21 Jun 2011 16:45
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Iran Daylight Time (IRDT), GMT+4:304:45 p.m., 31 Khordad/June 21 Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, the recently appointed deputy foreign minister at the heart of the latest eruption of conflict within the Iranian regime, has resigned under pressure. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi appointed Behrooz Kamalvandi as the deputy foreign minister for financial and administrative affairs in his place. During a press conference with visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Salehi said that Malekzadeh made a personal sacrifice by resigning.
Here is how the Mehr News Agency, a subsidiary of the Organization for Islamic Propaganda, reports the story:
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Tuesday accepted the resignation of the newly appointed deputy foreign minister for administrative and financial affairs Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh.
With the resignation of Malekzadeh, it is more than likely that lawmakers will withdraw their bid to impeach Salehi.
An impeachment motion against Salehi, signed by 33 MPs, was submitted to the Majlis Presiding Board [...] earlier [i]n the day.
MPs had cited the appointment of Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh as deputy foreign minister as the reason to impeach Salehi.
MPs say Malekzadeh is allied with the deviant current.
The "deviant current," or "perverted group," is the catchphrase used by hardline supporters of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to refer to Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's chief of staff and closest political confidant, and Mashaei's inner circle. Malekzadeh was deputy to Mashaei when the latter headed the Organization for Cultural Heritage and Tourism, and had recently been serving as secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Iranian Expatriates, which Mashaei founded and leads. Mashaei is widely thought to be planning a run for the presidency in 2013, a prospect deeply unwelcome to many hardliners in large part because of what they view as his promotion of nationalism at the expense of clerical authority.
As reported by Tehran Bureau, Foreign Minister Salehi met on Sunday with the Majles Commission on National Security and Foreign Policy in an attempt to defend Malekzadeh's appointment. According to a report published today by Press TV, the English-language subsidiary of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting,
"Apparently, Salehi was not aware of this individual's criminal record and his infringements," Iranian lawmaker Zohreh Elahian said.
"In this meeting, Salehi said the presence of a person with criminal records in the diplomatic apparatus is not in the interest of the country.... Therefore, he will dismiss Malekzadeh if his infringements of the law are proven," she added.
Meanwhile, Malekzadeh submitted his resignation to Salehi on Tuesday in an apparent attempt to avert a motion seeking the foreign minister's impeachment.
The Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, however, has made it clear that the impeachment effort will go forward as planned unless legislators themselves move to withdraw their impeachment motion against Salehi.
The Guardian adds further details and notes a related development in the ongoing power struggle:
In his resignation letter addressed to the foreign minister on Tuesday, Malekzadeh denounced his critics. "Despite dastardly manipulations and plentiful injustices done against me, I can't accept that you suffer from unjust pressures because of me anymore," the official IRNA news agency quoted Malekzadeh as saying. [...]
In another parliamentary dispute, legislators rejected Ahmadinejad's nominee for the post of minister of sport and youth.
According to an IRNA report,
The Iranian Parliament (Majlis) on Tuesday voted against Hamid Sajjadi as the country's new sports and youth minister.
Out of 247 MPs present in this morning session of Majlis, 137 voted against Sajjadi while 87 were in his side and 23 abstained.
Prior to the voting, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the parliament's session and outlined the characteristics of Sajjadi as his proposed sports and youth minister.
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