Fatemeh Bodaghi

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s legal deputy said Sunday that the president is still at the helm of the oil ministry.

At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Fatemeh Bodaghi told IRNA that the Guardian Council’s recent ruling cannot be applied retroactively; therefore, the president is still the caretaker of the oil ministry.

She said: “Therefore the government has announced its decision regarding the supervision of the ministry of oil, and the issue is closed.”

However, Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodayi had emphasized earlier that the president cannot be caretaker of any ministries that are left without a minister during the merger process.

Asked why the issue had not been challenged in 2009, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assumed supervision of the ministry of intelligence after removing Minister Mohseni Ejei, Kadkhodayi said that issue was never officially referred to the Council.

On May 11, Ahmadinejad announced during a live television broadcast that he will act as interim oil minister during the mergers. His administration is in the process of merging eight ministries into four.

Parliament has announced that the president does not have the authority to appoint ministers for the merged ministries, and such appointments must receive parliamentary approval.

In recent months, the Islamic Republic’s conservative elite has intensified its challenges to Ahmadinejad’s authority and the president and his chief of staff have faced repeated accusations.