Iran’s Intelligence Minister Heider Moslehi has resigned from his position, although the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has refused to accept the resignation.

Khamenei has the final decision on appointments of the ministers of foreign affairs, intelligence, defence and the interior. Moslehi is reported to be continuing to work as intelligence minister.

Moslehi’s resignation is the latest high-profile rift between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and members of his government over his hardline policies.

In December, Ahmadinejad fired Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki after disagreements over how to handle Western pressure.  In February, the Iranian parliament, or Majlis, impeached and gave a vote of no-confidence to Hamid Behbahani, the Roads and Transport Minister. Behbahani was impeached weeks after an Iranian passenger plane crashed near Orumiyeh, killing 72 people.

On 8 March, Iran’s former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stepped down from his position as head of the Assembly of Experts, which is responsible for selecting the supreme leader and supervises his activities.

Rafsanjani has been criticised in the past by hardline clerics as being too close to the opposition. His son Mohsen Hashemi then resigned from his position as head of the Tehran Metro following a disagreement with Ahmadinejad (MEED 10:3:11).

Further rifts are expected as the government prepares for the next parliamentary elections that will be held in March 2012.