Iran: Ahmadinejad to propose Aliabadi as permanent oil minister

By Eric Watkins
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to nominate a new oil minister later this month, with the current caretaker minister, Mohammad Aliabadi, being put forward for the permanent post.

“As per previous practice, those ministers who are already serving on the posts will be nominated,” said Mohammad Reza Mirtajedini, vice-president in charge of parliamentary affairs.

In addition to the oil minister, Ahmadinejad will nominate three other ministers: Industry, Mines and Trade; Cooperatives, Labor and Social Affairs; and Sports and Youth.

Iran’s state news agency said that parliament would debate the suitability of the ministers and vote to approve them or not within a week of their nomination, now scheduled for July 24.

Observers said the vote will serve as a referendum on Ahmadinejad, who has angered leading figures in Iran, including the Guardian Council, a powerful body of clerics and jurists appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and parliament (OGJ, May 20, 2011).

Ahmadinejad will be nominating Aliabadi to a parliament that is already highly critical of his dismissal of former Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi in May and his further attempt to appoint himself to the position.

Aliabadi, who attended the fractious June 8 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, himself is hardly a favorite candidate among parliamentarians.

The head of parliament's energy committee said that Aliabadi, who was serving as head of Iran's Olympic Committee at the time of his appointment to the oil ministry, was the “worst choice” and that he would damage Iran's energy sector.

At the time, Ahmadinejad defended his decision, saying that he was only implementing a plan to merge the oil ministry with the energy ministry, but critics viewed his move as an effort to take control of the country’s oil and gas revenues.

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