Ahmadinejad appoints fourth woman to cabinet

Filed on December 20, 2010

TEHERAN - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sacked the head of Iranís National Youth Organisation on Monday and appointed a woman to the cabinet post, official media reported.

Ahmadinejad removed Mehrdad Bazrpash and named Farahnaz Torkestani as the head of the National Youth Organisation, the official IRNA news agency said.

As such, Torkestani also becomes one of Iranís 12 vice presidents.

She is the fourth woman to join the government, which includes a woman health minister and two female vice presidents for legal affairs and science and technology.

The report did not give a reason for the dismissal, the second in a week following the dismissal last Tuesday of foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

Iranís atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi was sworn in as new foreign minister on Saturday.

Unlike cabinet ministers, vice presidents are not subject to a parliamentary vote of confidence.

Women joined the Iranian cabinet as vice presidents first under the reformist presidency of Mohammad Khatami, from 1997 to 2005, to widespread criticism from conservative clerics.

Ahmadinejadís first administration, from 2005 to 2009, saw numerous reshuffles and several ministers were sacked over disagreements with the president, especially over issues related to the economy.

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