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Iranian Parliament Rejects Ahmadinejad's Sports Ministry Candidate

Hamid Sajadi (pictured) was proposed by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad for a newly created ministry of sports and youth.
Iran's parliament has rejected the candidate of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad as the first-ever sports minister of the country, dealing the president a fresh blow on an increasingly fractious political scene.

Fars news agency reported that more than 55 percent of the deputies rejected the nomination of 43-year-old Hamid Sajadi, an Asian champion long-distance runner in the 1990s.

The move was another signal of the parliament's opposition to the president. Ahmadinejad had explicitly asked legislators to approve the minister and the new ministry as being in the national interest.

Meanwhile, Iran's deputy foreign minister, Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, has resigned under pressure from hard-liners and lawmakers who sought to impeach him. Fars reported that his resignation had been accepted.

Ahmadinejad was recently chastened by parliament amid ambitious cabinet reforms when lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to report him to the judiciary over "illegally" trying to put himself in charge of the Oil Ministry. The parliamentary move came after the powerful Guardians Council rebuked him on the same topic.

He has also clashed publicly with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who ordered the reinstatement of Iran's intelligence chief, Heyday Moslehi, after Ahmadinejed dismissed him.

After a prolonged hiatus from official appearances, the president took the unusual step of downplaying talk of a rift with Khamenei in a state television interview in mid-May.

compiled from agency and RFE/RL reports