Middle East
Iran appoints new interior minister
Critics argue that the president is using the post as support before 2009 elections.
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2008 11:13 GMT
Ahmadinejad gestures in support of his nominee [AFP]

Iran has picked an ally of the country's president to be the next interior minister.

Sadeq Mahsouli was voted in by a small majority of parliament on Tuesday, replacing Ali Kordan who was sacked for having a fake university degree.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president, had nominated Mahsouli for the job.

He is a veteran from the elite Revolutionary Guards, a former election campaign manager for Ahmadinejad and presently one of his advisers.

Ali Larijani, the parliament speaker, said: "Out of 273 deputies who received ballots to take part in the vote of confidence, 138 voted for him, 112 rejected his nomination. We have 20 abstentions and three did not take part at all."

Mahsouli had previously been nominated for oil minister, but he withdrew after being criticised for his lack of experience.

Critics argue that Ahmadinejad chose Mahsouli in order to strengthen his position ahead of presidential elections in June next year, a claim Mahsouli denied.

"The issue of me being in Mr Ahmadinejad's [election] campaign group is not true," he said. "And I have never received a single rial in loans either from a public sector or a private sector bank."

The interior ministry is in charge of organising elections.

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