Lotfollah Forouzandeh

The dispute between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian parliament deepened today as a senior member of the government announced that the Guardian Council ruling regarding the merging of ministries is not valid.

Iranian media report that Lotfollah Forouzandeh, the deputy of Development and Human Power, announced that the administration has merged ministries in complete adherence to the law, and their responsibilities will be laid out in a bill to the parliament.

However, yesterday the head of the Guardian Council, which is charged with interpreting the law in case of disputes, announced that the government cannot just go ahead with merging the ministries and parliament must approve each merger separately.

Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani previously had said the Ahmadinejad administration was violating the law by merging ministries without prior approval from parliament.

Ahmadinejad had responded to the accusations by saying his cabinet was charged with reducing the number of ministries from 21 to 17, which it has proceeded to do.

“The cabinet has accomplished the mergers and it has also approved the responsibilities and authorities of each ministry, which will soon be delivered to the parliament,” Forouzandeh announced.

He added that the Guardian Council’s interpretation of the law cannot be applied retroactively. He maintained that since the council ruled after the mergers, that ruling can not be applied to what’s already been done.

Ahmadinejad has been facing fierce resistance from the conservative factions of the government in recent weeks, revealing the limits of the president’s power in the Islamic Republic establishment.