A senior Iranian legislator
Emad Hosseini warned that Iran's presidency over the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) may be troubled if President Ahmadinejad does not appoint a caretaker to the oil ministry to chair the next ministerial meeting of the oil cartel, Fars News Agency reported.
"A caretaker or oil minister must chair OPEC, and if we continue with the current trend, Iran will certainly lose OPEC's presidency," Rapporteur of the parliament's Energy Commission Hosseini told.
The next OPEC ministerial meeting will be held in the Austrian capital Vienna on June 8.
Hosseini called on the president to introduce a new caretaker or oil minister and said parliament demands an explanation on why Ahmadinejad has not done so already.
In a televised speech earlier this month, Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that he himself will preside the country's oil ministry after mergers take place at several ministries.
"The Iranian government and Parliament have consensus on the Oil Ministry merger...I am the caretaker for the Oil Ministry," Ahmadinejad said in early May.
The Iranian chief executive added that the decision to merge ministries was made based on a "legal duty" and "structural obligation" and emphasized that the government's swift implementation of the law has "executive and scientific" reasons.
Iran's Oil Minister Massoud Mir-Kazzemi and other officials stepped down following planned mergers by a number of ministries.
Industry and Mines Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian and Welfare Minister Sadeq Mahsouli also left the cabinet.
Iran merged the Oil Ministry with the Energy Ministry, Industries and Mines Ministry with the Commerce Ministry, and the Welfare Ministry with the Labor Ministry in early May in a move to cut the number of government departments to 17 from 21 and boost the administration's efficiency.
Parliamentarians have urged President Ahmadinejad to nominate the ministers for the merged ministries to the parliament and seek votes of confidence.
Last week, an Iranian Oil Ministry official ended weeks of media speculations about the presence of Ahmadinejad in the next ministerial meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, saying that a cabinet minister, and not Ahmadinejad, will chair the OPEC gathering.
"In a face-to-face meeting with President Ahmadinejad, he announced that he would not attend the next OPEC meeting," Iranian Oil Ministry Director
Shojaoddin Bazargani said last Monday.
Bazargani added that a cabinet minister would be selected to represent Iran at the next OPEC meeting and the European Union-OPEC joint session.
Iran, OPEC's second largest crude exporter, currently holds the presidency of the cartel, a position it is holding for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution.