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Ahmadinejad Cabinet Looks Set For Rough Ride In Iran's Parliament


Ahmadinejad has lost much prestige since his disputed reelection and the following mass demonstrations.
(RFE/RL) -- Indications are that Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad will have a tough time getting parliamentary approval for his new cabinet list, which has just been submitted to the assembly.

Ahmadinejad submitted the list to parliament overnight, and the assembly has 10 days to consider it before it goes to a vote on August 30. But some senior members of parliament have already made clear that they are unhappy with some of the names on the list.

Conservative Ahmad Tavakolo said that among the nominations are people who have "never recorded a day of executive work."

Tavakolo said it's safe to assume therefore that the cabinet "will not have the caliber required for an efficient government."

Another conservative, Parviz Sarvari, said that if parliament believes the proposed ministers do not have the necessary experience, it will "get tough" with them.

The criticism echoes similar comments heard during Ahmadinejad's first term in office, when he was accused of appointing allies to the cabinet, regardless of their suitability for the post.

Iran parliament to reject Ahmadinejad ministers: lawmakers

"Those nominated by the president for government posts must have sufficient expertise and experience, otherwise a great deal of the country's energy would be wasted," state broadcaster IRIB quoted parliament speaker Ali Larijani as saying Thursday.

Vice speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar, a pragmatic conservative who has been critical of the hardline president in the past, suggested up to five members of Ahmadinejad's 21-strong cabinet risked being voted down by parliament. He did not give names. -- Reuters, Tehran

Making matters worse for Ahmadinejad is that this time around, he has lost much of his former prestige.

Although he still has the support of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, he is being assailed by conservatives and reformers alike over his disputed reelection to the presidency. The dispute led to the worst rioting since the Islamic republic was founded 30 years ago.

Winning approval for his new cabinet will inevitably be a test of strength for the president.

Questions Over Nominees

Ahmadinejad's latest list contains 21 nominations, three of them women, who, if approved, would be the Islamic republic's first female government ministers.

Ahmad Vahidi (left) with Rahaim Safavi, the head of the Revolutionary Guard in 2007

Defense nominee Ahmad Vahidi's name appears on a list of people wanted for questioning by the international police agency Interpol in connection with the 1994 terrorist bombing of a Jewish community center in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires that killed more than 80 people.

One surprise is that Masud Mir Kazemi has been named oil minister. Kazemi is currently commerce minister, and he has little known experience in the oil sector. This portfolio is of key importance because the state derives most of its revenue from crude-oil exports.

And the post could become even more central to events if the international community were to go ahead with a threat to impose sanctions on the import of refined oil products to Iran, as part of its drive to curb Iran's nuclear program.

The list contains a strong contingent of nominees with connections to Iran's elite Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. Apart from Kazemi, defense nominee Vahidi, interior nominee Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, and intelligence nominee Heyder Moslehi, have all had links with the Revolutionary Guards, like Ahmadinejad himself.

RFE/RL's Radio Farda contributed to this report. with news agency content

Copyright (c) 2009 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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