TEHRAN: The Iranian government confirmed on Sunday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has only sacked the intelligence minister, rejecting reports that more other ministers had been dismissed, the satellite Press TV said.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) and First Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei attend a ceremony in Tehran July 22, 2009. [Agencies]
The dismissal of Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei came less than ten days before the president announces his new cabinet, according to the English-language satellite channel Press TV.
Iran's official IRNA news agency earlier quoted Iran's parliament deputy Hamid-Reza Hajbabai as saying that Ahmadinejad is to swear in for a second term on August 5.
After the ceremony, the president should introduce his cabinet within two weeks of getting a vote of confidence from the parliament, Hajbabai said.
Earlier Sunday, Press TV said Mohseni-Ejei, Islamic Culture and Guidance Minister Mohammad-Hassan Saffar-Harandi and Labor Minister Mohammad Jahromi were sacked.
Some other local new agencies said that Health Minister Kamran Baqeri-Lankarani was also relieved from duty. The Health Ministry, however, denied the reports in a telephone conversation with Press TV.
The reports said the mass dismissals followed the ministers' criticisms of Ahmadinejad's decision of picking Esfandiar Rahim- Mashaei's as his first deputy.
Ahmadinejad's pick of Rahim-Mashaei as the first vice president, which was announced on July 16, caused a one-week political bickering in Iran.
Even those hardline clerics, military men and politicians who had voted for Ahmadinejad in the June presidential election urged him to withdraw from his decision.
Analysts say that the hard-liners oppose this pick because of Mashaei's comments he made last year about Israel.
In 2008, Rahim-Mashaei said that Iran is a "friend of the Israeli people", a claim which he later distanced himself from, saying that his comments had been misinterpreted.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the strong supporter of Ahmadinejad in the country's presidential election disputes, described Mashaei's appointment in his July 18 letter to Ahmadinejad as "contrary to your own and your government's interests."
"You are requested to reverse this appointment," Khamenei said in his letter.
After a heated dispute over the choice, Ahmadinejad reversed his decision and accepted Rahim-Mashaei's resignation on Friday.