Iranian executive vice-president Hamid Baghai has been suspended from public service for four years in yet another blow to embattled president Mahmoud Ahamdinejad.
Semi-official Mehr and Fars News agencies have reported that Baghai confirmed his four-year suspension at a news conference.
Baghai is reportedly being suspended for alleged violations committed while he headed the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, and he intends to appeal the decision.
In April, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad increased Hamdi Baghai’s government responsibilities making him his executive vice-president.
Iranian media report that Baghai was previously charged with a number of “violations” but he refused to carry out the sentence. Therefore, the Administrative Justice Court slapped him with a four-year suspension from public service.
The conservative factions of the Islamic Republic have become highly critical of several Mahmoud Ahmadinejad aides and advisers in recent weeks. Many of his vocal supporters have been arrested and his chief mentor and support in the clergy, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, has intimated that Ahmadinejad must have been “bewitched” by the “questionable characters” that surround him.
Iran’s conservative elite, who supported Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 elections, appear to have turned against him, dealing a blow at every turn.
Last month, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei overruled Ahmadinejad’s decision to dismiss his intelligence minister.
The Parliament has repeatedly accused Ahmadinejad of acting illegally on several issues, and on Friday, the parliamentary watchdog, the powerful Guardian Council, overturned Ahmadinejad’s decision to serve as interim oil minister while ministries are being merged.
Analysts believe the disputes boil down to a power struggle between Ahmadinejad’s close circle of supporters and the conservative elite for dominance over the coming parliamentary elections.