Iranian government replaces air force chief and Cabinet minister

Saturday, October 28th 2006, 6:00 pm
By: News On 6

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Iran replaced its air force chief and a key Cabinet minister Saturday, state-run media reported without giving the reasons.

The country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appointed Gen. Ahmad Mighani as the new air force chief to succeed Gen. Karim Ghavami, who held the post for two years, state television said.

The report did not elaborate or give any reason for Ghavami's replacement, which came earlier than expected.

A U.S.-trained pilot, Ghavami commanded military maneuvers in September when Iran's air force tested a new air defense system, fighter planes and laser-guided bombs.

The change came ahead of a Persian Gulf naval exercise next week in which the United States and five other countries are participating.

Also Saturday, Iran's official news agency said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was replacing Mohammad Nazemi Ardakani as head of the Ministry of Cooperatives, which is an economic department that supports cooperative companies.

``Mr. Ardakani has been an effective and good colleague in the administration, but we decided to employ him in a different post,'' the agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying. He did not elaborate.

The report said Ardakani was being replaced by Mohammad Abbasi, a legislator and former chancellor of a university in northern Iran.

It was the second change in Ahmadinejad's Cabinet in nearly a month. The minister of social affairs was replaced in September.