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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Crisis in Tehran as President Rebuffed

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's parliamentarians piled further embarrassment on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday, overwhelmingly rejecting his third nominee for oil minister of the world's fourth-biggest crude producer.

The second-biggest exporter in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has been rudderless since August, and parliamentary hostility to Ahmadinejad is exposing bitter rifts in the conservative camp.

Out of 254 parliamentarians who cast votes, only 77 voted in favor of Mohsen Tasalloti, a veteran of the petrochemicals industry. Lawmakers heartily congratulated each other when the results of the vote were read out.

The rejection of a third candidate blew Iran into uncharted waters constitutionally. Several analysts and lawmakers have speculated that the Guardian Council, Iran's constitutional watchog, may have to take the helm.

"This vote of no confidence should carry a message to Ahmadinejad about his method of choosing his oil ministers," conservative lawmaker Ali Riaz said after the vote.

Lawmakers accused Ahmadinejad of only consulting with a small number of his close allies instead of with them.

"Ahmadinejad has a slogan of cooperation between parliament and government, but it would be better if he actually conferred with his lawmakers," lawmaker Sattar Hedayatkhar said in the debate before the vote.

The failure to select an oil minister has severe economic implications for a country that derives 80 percent of its export earnings from hydrocarbons.

"This delay is wasting Iran's huge oil and gas assets and damaging its economy," said Manouchehr Takin from the Center for Global Energy Studies.

Lawmakers rejected Ahmadinejad's first nominee in August. The second candidate pulled out of the race earlier this month, moments before lawmakers were due to cast their votes.