Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has named the country's former police chief, replaced Wednesday, to a senior post in the military hierarchy, state radio reported Thursday.
General Hedayat Lotfian, a career soldier, was appointed to the inspection division of the armed forces general staff, replacing General Ali Sayad Shirazi, who was assassinated in April last year.
State radio said Wednesday that Khamenei had named General Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, 50, head of the air wing of the elite Revolutionary Guards, to lead the powerful internal security forces in the place of Lotfian.
In his letter of appointment Khamenei, who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, ordered Qalibaf to strengthen "collective security" in the country.
He called on the new police chief to "intensify the fight against evil-doers, bandits and all those who spread insecurity," and continue efforts to combat corruption in the police, the radio said.
The new appointment comes as Iran is experiencing social unrest because of the economic situation and unemployment, battling drug smugglers in the provinces bordering Afghanistan and suffering sporadic attacks by the Iraq-based People's Mujahadeen opposition.
It also comes a few days before the first anniversary of the worst unrest in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, when a police raid on a student dormitory protest triggered rioting in Tehran and Tabriz.
The Tehran police chief was sacked and went on trial in February with 19 others on charges of insubordination and exceeding his authority. The verdict is still awaited - TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)