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Esfandiar Rahim Mashai is Iran's First Vice President

TEHRAN - A group of Iranian hardliners raised objections on Sunday to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's decision to appoint close aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as the country's new first vice president.

"It is imperative to terminate the appointment of Mashaie as first vice president in order to respect the wishes of the majority of the people," said Hossein Shriatmadari, managing director of the hardline Kayhan newspaper who was appointed to his post by the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"When people found out about the appointment, they viewed this move as one taken not just in bad taste... but as one which shows indifference (towards them)," he wrote in an editorial in the newspaper.

The appointment of Mashaie, a close confidant of Ahmadinejad, had been expected to ruffle feathers among the country's hardliners and clerical groups who heavily influence politics in the Islamic republic.

Mashaie, whose daughter is married to Ahmadinejad's son, is a controversial figure who last year was rapped by hardliners and Khamenei for saying Iran is a "friend of the Israeli people."

The Islamic republic has repeatedly vowed never to recognise Israel, which was an ally of pro-US shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, ousted by the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Source: Agence France-Presse (via abs-cbn news)

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