Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sacked three Cabinet ministers Saturday, bypassing parliamentary approval to do so.
The move comes as part of a major power struggle between the Iranian president and the country's parliament.
Ahmadinejad finds himself in a bind following a major confrontation with his former teacher, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. The Supreme Leader has publicly scolded Ahmadinejad for dismissing Iran's intelligence minister, and immediately reinstated him.
According to a new law, the president must downsize and restructure the government from 21 to 17 ministries. But in a political gamble, Ahmadinejad bypassed legal channels to make the cuts on his own.
According to a report broadcast on Iranian state radio, the three sacked ministers included Oil Minister Masaoud Mirkazemi, Welfare and Social Security Minister Sadeq Mahsouli and Industry Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian.
Ironically, all three are loyal to Ahmadinejad.
In the next Iranian elections, set for 2013, a new president will be chosen to replace Ahmadinejad. However, he appears to have already weakened his position considerably by developing a conflict with the Supreme Leader.
The perceived weakness is leading to more challenges to Ahmadinejad's authority from internal sources, including those from the parliament.