By Arash Bahmani, Rooz Online
The Search for the New Cabinet is on its Way
Iran's President-Elect Hassan Rowhani
These days are hectic for Iran's president-elect Hassan Rowhani. In addition to meetings with prominent political personalities, he spends much time searching for members of his to-be-cabinet while at the same time planning the direction of his future team.
Members of the principlists faction on the other hand, who interpret Rowhani's presidential accent to be their victory too are busy issuing him warnings about his meetings with political groups and figures, and his possible cabinet selections.
Commenting on his future cabinet members, Rowhani has said, "I have been consulting for a while with friends who do not present their own demands or have their own expectations and hope to select the most deserving individuals who have no party or factional affiliations for the positions within the available time."
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Earlier speculations about Rowhani's possible cabinet choices have been dismissed by him and his close associates who had also said that he had not yet selected anyone for any post.
In a recent meeting with a group of "clerics and senior ayatollahs" Rowhani has said, that "People are expecting change" and added that under the current conditions there should be no "distance and disassociation between clerics and the public" because, in his words, "whether one likes it or not, whatever is done by officials will be seen as actions by the clergy."
In that particular meeting he once again stressed that he would strive to deliver his campaign promises and even specifically said that he would stay away from extremism, would strengthen public confidence in the government, and would reduce the material and non-material problems facing the public. But in addition to these goals, he also qualified his promises by adding that "a strong and effective government did not mean an intrusive administration that would intervene in every and all people's affairs, limit people's activities or interfere in their lives. The strength of the government derived from raising the trust of the people and strengthening the social capital." He explained his views on the government's role in these words: "We must create the conditions for greater public participation on a daily basis and must reduce the areas of government authority in social affairs by the day."
He concluded his remarks with these sobering words: "A multitude of problems and issues face us today. I have come forward with full knowledge of all the problems and have stepped into this position despite the unparalleled issues facing the nation which I will share them with the nation later. No government in the history of Iran has faced the problems that this new administration faces."
In response to these remarks about the economic problems facing the Iranian nation, outgoing first vice-president Mohammad-Reza Rahimi has called on Rowhani to "continue the direction and policies of the tenth administration (Ahmadinejad's) regarding industrial and economic development of the country."
Principlists in general however responded differently to Rowan's statements and positions. For example, Ahmad Khatami, the influential Friday prayer leader of Tehran and a member of the Experts Assembly on Leadership which is legally tasked with overseeing and selecting the supreme leader of the country, has said, "If the elected government deviates in the slightest from the path of the supreme leader, it will be viewed as not one of us." He had earlier advised Rowhani to "be careful of hardliners" and to "consider this in his selections for the cabinet."
At the same time, a pro-government Majlis representative Ruhollah Hosseinian publicly said that people's vote for Rowhani was for the purpose of "solving economic problems." He added, "Mr. Rowhani's administration should not make promises that it will reduce prices because such a possibility does not exist right now. I have experience in economic problems and understand them, I believe it is not true that Mr. Rowhani's administration can bring about a reduction in prices or bring the spiral inflation in the country under control."
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