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Iran parliament to reject Ahmadinejad ministers: MPs
Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:15pm EDT
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By Fredrik Dahl and Zahra Hosseinian
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faces a tough battle to win parliament's approval for his new cabinet after some deputies signaled they were likely to reject several nominees.
"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 on 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.
Ahmadinejad hit back when he presented his list of proposed ministers in a televised address, asking how one person could speak for the whole parliament.
"This is far from constructive cooperation ... those who try to present the government's relations with parliament as damaged will certainly not succeed," he said. "We really tried to choose experts."
The outcome will be a test of Ahmadinejad's grip on power after his disputed re-election in June led to the worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and exposed establishment divisions. At least 26 people were killed in street protests.
The nominees include Commerce Minister Massoud Mirkazemi as oil minister, a key position as crude sales account for most state revenue. Mirkazemi is seen as an Ahmadinejad ally but has little known oil industry experience.
Ahmadinejad said Mirkazemi was a skilled manager. "His presence at the Oil Ministry will further promote the status of our oil industry as a strategic commodity of our nation."
In 2005, the president failed to get his first three choices for oil minister appointed because of parliament's opposition.
Mirkazemi and the proposed intelligence and interior ministers have a background with the elite Revolutionary Guards, as does Ahmadinejad. The force, seen as fiercely loyal to the Islamic Republic's values, appears to have grown in political and economic influence since he came to power four years ago.
London-based analyst Gala Riani, of IHS Global Insight, said Ahmadinejad had put forward a cabinet that "largely consists of loyalists with a security background" and that his legitimacy would be damaged if some of them were rejected by parliament.
The legislature is dominated by conservatives, but some of Ahmadinejad's supporters have abandoned him since the election, even though he enjoys the backing of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's highest authority. Moderates see Ahmadinejad's government as illegitimate.
Deputies had urged Ahmadinejad not to nominate inexperienced ministers. The president had previously announced he would make major changes from his first-term cabinet and state-run Press TV said the new line-up included 11 "new faces."
A parliamentary spokesman said voting would start on August 30. Conservative member of parliament Javad Karimi Qodousi predicted 80 percent of the ministers would be approved. Continued...
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