Sunday, June 21, 1998 Published at 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
World: Middle East
Khatami stand raises tension
Abdollah Nouri in a cabinet meeting (second from left)
The Interior Minister, Abdollah Nouri, was accused of creating social tensions and making provocative speeches. But immediately after his dismissal, President Khatami appointed him to another cabinet post as a vice-president in charge of development and social affairs.
The surprise move is the latest in a continuing power struggle between traditionalists and moderates, led by President Khatami, in the Iranian leadership.
The president has described Mr Nouri as a crucial player in implementing the reformist policies on which he was elected last August.
More specifically, he was charged with allowing crime and drugs rates to soar because of disruption and distraction caused by a large number of dismissals and reappointments among local and national officials.
He was also charged with pursuing his own political agenda by campaigning openly on behalf of the Mayor of Tehran, Gholamhoseyn Karbaschi, who is currently on trial on corruption charges.
The conservative deputies also accused him of causing unrest by giving permits for demonstrations which led to disturbances.
The motion of censure against Mr Nouri was carried by 137 votes to 117.
Charges played down
Mr Nouri played the charges down. He said they were vague and that they should have been brought to his attention in more detail earlier so that they could have been addressed without resort to impeachment.
But Mr Nouri did not sway the floating voters in the parliament, known as the Maglis, who might have come down on his side.
The parliament's decision was seen as a considerable blow to Mr Khatami, but he has now made it clear that Mr Nouri is crucial to his own reformist political programme.
He has made it obvious in recent days that Mr Nouri was a key member of his administration, and that he had been following appropriate policies.
Mr Nouri was entrusted with the task of carrying out the president's plans for political reforms aimed at liberalising the system.
The correspondent says the latest move by President Khatami raises the stakes in the political power play and brings political confrontation closer than the president would have liked.