Manouchehr Mottaki, right, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left, have had a relationship fraught with tensions [EPA]

The former Iranian foreign minister has criticised Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country's president, over his abrupt dismissal during a work visit to Africa last week.

Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted in a local media report as saying he was not informed of the decision before or during the trip.

Ahmadinejad announced the decision while Mottaki was away on a diplomatic mission to Senegal, the Mehr news agency reported.

"Dismissing a minister during a mission is un-Islamic, undiplomatic and offensive," Mottaki said. "I was never informed."

Mottaki's criticism follows an outcry by Iranian legislators who rival the president from within his own conservative camp.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the Iranian nuclear chief, has been named acting foreign minister.

Mottaki's sacking comes at a time when Iran is engaged in talks with world powers over its nuclear programme.

On Saturday, Mohammad Reza Rahimi, the Iranian first vice-president, said during a farewell ceremony for Mottaki that the foreign minister knew ahead of the Africa trip that he was going to be replaced.

On Sunday there was more criticism of Ahmadinejad in parliament.

Criticisms

Ali Larijani, the parliament speaker and a close ally of Mottaki, said during a speech in an open session of parliament that he appreciated Mottaki's service.

"The change should have happened with prudence and dignity and not during the visit," Larijani said.

Ali Motahari, one of the legislators opposed to Ahmadinejad, told Khabaronline news website on Sunday that Mottaki learned about his dismissal from Abdoulaye Wade, the Senegalese president.

"The president [Ahmadinejad] did not have such a right. I hope he will have convincing response for this," said Motahari.

Tenuous relations

Mottaki and Ahmadinejad appeared to have had a relationship fraught with tensions.

A fluent speaker of English who is also comfortable in Urdu and Turkish, Mottaki earned a degree in social sciences from the University of Bangalore in India and a graduate degree in international relations from Tehran University in 1991.

In recent months, Mottaki had challenged Ahmadinejad's plan to appoint his own special foreign envoys to key areas such as the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Caspian Sea region.

Mottaki won that round after reportedly getting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to intervene, prompting Ahmadinejad to reclassify the envoy posts as advisers.

Source: Agencies