Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on Saturday named a new interim post and telecoms minister after his first choice for the troubled ministry was rejected by the reform-majority parliament.
State radio said Khatami had tapped Abdollah Mirtaheri to head the embattled ministry, which has been buffeted by widespread unhappiness with the nation's sometimes unreliable telephone and mobile phone service.
The reformist president had selected Nasrollah Jahangard to take over the reins at the ministry but Jahangard was turned down by the parliament on Tuesday.
Some analysts had seen the rejection of Jahangard, a strong supporter of the president, as a serious political setback for Khatami while rumours are swirling that his popular culture minister is also soon to be forced out of office under pressure from conservatives.
Khatami's government has been moving to liberalise the telecoms sector but even the president's die-hard supporters have voiced frustration at the woeful state of the national phone service.
The pro-reform Iran News recently devoted a long, unhappy editorial to the results of a study in which the paper called the mobile phones in its own office, only to repeatedly get a message saying they were out of range or had been switched off.
Saturday's Hambastigi paper quoted an MP saying that the vote against Jahangard, whom Khatami had come personally before parliament to support, was a sign that decisions by the usually pro-president legislature "are not always based on political affiliation." — (AFP)
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)