Ahmadinejad seen as increasingly vulnerable since re-election

Ahmadinejad seen as increasingly vulnerable since re-election

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran dismissed his intelligence minister on Sunday and his culture minister resigned, the latest fallout of a bitter dispute among conservatives that has exposed Mr. Ahmadinejad’s vulnerability in the aftermath of last month’s disputed election.

The intelligence minister, Gholam-Hussein Mohseni-Ejei, is one of several who walked out of a cabinet meeting last week to protest Mr. Ahmadinejad’s promotion of a controversial deputy, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei.

That dismissal seemed largely symbolic, with only a week left before Mr. Ahmadinejad is inaugurated for a second term and must submit a new cabinet to the Parliament. Analysts say he is trying to show political confidence after the June 12 election, which opposition supporters claim was rigged in his favor. But his conservative rivals appear to smell blood and have pressed him hard over the promotion of Mr. Mashaei.

Mr. Ahmadinejad could face trouble in the coming days, because dismissing ministers, beyond a certain point, triggers a parliamentary vote of confidence on the cabinet. The deputy speaker of Parliament said Sunday that any cabinet meetings before the end of the president’s term would be illegal, state media reported. [continued…]

Iran’s Rafsanjani ignores hardliners’ call on vote

ran’s influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Sunday defied a call by a group of hardline clerics to back the country’s disputed presidential election result, a news agency reported.

On Friday, 50 members of the 86-seat Assembly of Experts, called on Rafsanjani in a statement to show more support for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who endorsed the re-election of the hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, soon after the June 12 vote, which moderates say was rigged.

Challenging the authority of Iran’s most powerful figure, Rafsanjani declared the Islamic republic in crisis in during his sermon on July 17 and demanded an end to arrests of moderates. [continued…]

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