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Iran parliament to take Ahmadinejad to court over oil ministry

Iran's Parliament [official website, in Persian] voted on Wednesday to take President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to court for "illegally" declaring himself oil minister. Last month, Ahmadinejad fired minister of oil Masoud Mirkazemi in an effort to streamline his cabinets and took control of the ministry as a "caretaker." The parliament voted 165-1 with 13 abstentions [Trend report] to try Ahmadinejad in the judiciary, as appointing himself caretaker is an "obvious violation of the constitution." Ahmadinejad's next move will reportedly be an attempt to combine the ministry of oil and the ministry of energy, which has been denounced by a parliament report [text, PDF, in Persian]. Iran is the current rotating president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) [official website], and some have speculated that Ahmadinejad's actions were an effort to lead the OPEC conference in June [Reuters report]. He has agreed to send a different minister in his place.

Parliament's vote came just two days after Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, endorsed Ahmadinejad [LAT report] and pleaded for he and the parliament to reconcile. Ahmadinejad, Khamenei and the parliament have been at odds for the past few months. It is reported [LAT report] that the current move to become "caretaker" of the ministry of oil is in retribution for Khamenei overruling Ahmadinejad's decision to fire his chief intelligence officer. Although the Guardian Council, a group of clerics and jurists appointed by Khamenei and the parliament, already ruled that Khamenei could not serve as caretaker and president. He ignored their ruling. The president is free to appoint caretakers for ministers, but the caretaker may only stay in office for three months without parliamentary approval.

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