Iranian leader slapped

Lawmakers reject ministry nominee


TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, suffered another defeat yesterday as Parliament rejected his third nominee for the sensitive leadership of the Oil Ministry.

Mohsen Tassaloti, 51, a director of petrochemical development in southern Iran, received 77 of 254 votes cast.

His opponents faulted him - as they did the other two nominees - for not having enough experience in the oil industry and for lacking the political influence to lead Iran's interest as the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Tassaloti was also faulted by conservative deputies for supporting a reformist in the June presidential election.

"The vote Wednesday shows that Parliament is distancing itself from President Ahmadinejad's policies," said Hamidreza Jalaipour, a sociologist and professor at Tehran University.

"Mr. Ahmadinejad thought Parliament will eventually give in, but the Parliament is not willing to surrender to such a situation," he said, "and the friction between the two has become a deterrent force for any kind of progress in the past three months since he took office."

This is the first time since the 1979 revolution that an Iranian president has faced such a hurdle. Ahmadinejad was legally required to name his minister within three months of taking office.

Many conservative deputies who supported Ahmadinejad during the election have become his most serious critics since he took office in August and have opposed his policies.

One of those who opposed Tassaloti, Ahmad Bozorgian, criticized Ahmadinejad after the president accused political rivals of trying to destroy the relationship between Parliament and his government.

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