Monday, September 22, 2008

New Deputy in Every Election

Rumors of Deputy Interior Minister's Dismissal ‎

Rumors of the imminent dismissal of Deputy Interior Minister commander Afshar are heard at a ‎time when the ninth administration seems to be close to setting a new record, according to which, ‎in the three years since the administration came to power, each year a new deputy has found his ‎way to the tall skyscraper on Fatemi Street. Thus far, the ninth administration has administered ‎every election under a different Deputy Interior Minister, who is, in effect, the chief elections ‎administrator. ‎

News sources close to the administration, including Fars news agency, Reporters' Club and ‎Borna news agency announced on Friday that commander Ali Reza Afshar, the interior ‎ministry's political deputy, has resigned from his post at the ministry and left the ministry. ‎Nevertheless, on Saturday Ali Reza Afshar told the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) that he ‎has not resigned from his post. He also noted that "I had the pleasure to serve in the ninth ‎administration by Mr. Ahmadinejad's invitation and will continue to be of service for as long as ‎and at position he deems appropriate." ‎

Although, as predicted twenty days ago by the Tabnak news website, conflicts of opinion ‎between Afshar and newly appointed Interior Minister Kordan may be sufficient for Afshar's ‎departure, yesterday's remarks by this former Revolutionary Guards commander were of interest ‎in their own right. In reiterating that he was invited to serve by the president, Afshar was ‎insinuating that his presence at the ministry is outside the boundary of authority of the new ‎Interior Minister. Nevertheless, Kargozaran newspaper reported on Saturday that denials of ‎Afshar's resignation are not "serious," noting that, in previous instances as well, whenever an ‎administration official was removed, denials were issued shortly prior to that official's removal. ‎

Now rumors of Deputy Interior Minister's removal are abound even though the position is the ‎most important deputy-position in all ministries, because it oversees election administration. ‎Afshar's change would mark the third change in deputy Interior Minister position in the past ‎three years. The first Interior Minister of the ninth administration was Mostafa ‎Pourmohammadi, who initially appointed Ali Jannat as the ministry's political deputy, but when ‎it was found that Jannati had supported Hashemi Rafsanjani in the presidential election, ‎agitations began to remove him. As a result, Ahmadinejad personally picked the Deputy Interior ‎Minister, so that, on the eve of the third round of city council elections, Ali Jannati was ‎appointed as Iran's ambassador to Bahrain and a figure closer to Ahmadinejad administered the ‎elections. As a result of these developments, and on the eve of the third round of city council ‎elections, Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, Ahmadinejad's high advisor and confidant was appointed ‎as Deputy Interior Minister in September of 2006. ‎

This time, Samareh Hashemi's removal was initiated by the president's order, and Mostafa ‎Pourmohammadi said, "We would have liked to continue our cooperation with Mojtaba Samareh ‎Hashemi as Deputy Interior Minister but due to pressure of work and his position as president's ‎advisor, Dr. Ahmadinejad did not agree with his stay at the Interior Ministry." ‎

As such, on the eve of the third elections administered by the Ahmadinejad government - eighth ‎Majlis elections - in August 2007, Commander Alireza Afshar was appointed as the ministry's ‎political deputy; the same person whose dismissal rumors are now abound in the media. ‎

Ali Kordan, who last week approved the resignation of the Interior Ministry's reconstruction ‎communication deputy, is yet to react to news of Afshar's resignation and only told reporters, "I ‎know nothing about this issue." ‎

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