Iran's powerful Guardians Council has dealt a political blow to President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in a ruling that prevents him from simultaneously serving as caretaker oil minister.
It's the latest setback for the president in what observers contend is a simmering feud with the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose position gives him the final say in religious and political matters.
The decision came in response to a televised interview on May 16, days after Ahmadinejad dismissed Oil Minister Masud Mirkazemi and two other cabinet ministers, in which the president said he would take over the Oil portfolio until a replacement was found.
Ahmadinejad reportedly planned to lead Iran's delegation to a June meeting in Vienna of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting, whose annually rotating leadership is currently in Iranian hands.
The Guardians Council decision means Ahmadinejad should appoint an oil minister.
over Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, the president's chief of staff who some say was anointed as an eventual successor, has been linked to what some regard as the most significant political crisis since the disputed election that sparked massive demonstrations in mid-2009.
Supreme Leader Khamenei, who has backed Ahmadinejad at key junctures since the former Tehran mayor's surprise presidential election victory in 2005, had a public disagreement with Ahmadinejad over his attempted firing of Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi in mid-April. That dispute was also tied by some to Mashaei.
compiled from Radio Farda and agency reports