Most of the cabinet proposed by president Ahmadinejad (photo, from bbc.co.uk) has been approved on Thursday by Iranian legislators. Among those approved is a man linked to the bombing of a jewish centre in Argentina.
Parliamen rejected only three of the president’s proposed new 21-member cabinet, which is only a limited setback for Ahmadinejad as he starts his second term.
Iranian legislators have approved most of the cabinet nominees proposed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president, including Iran’s first female minister and a man linked to the bombing of a Jewish centre in Argentina.
Parliament on Thursday rejected only three of Ahmadinejad’s proposed new 21-member cabinet, signalling only a limited setback for the president as he enters his second term.
Garnering 227 out of 286 members of parliament present, Ahmad Vahidi, Iran’s new defence minister, received crushing backing from the parliament.Last month, Argentina has been outraged by his nomination, saying he was “deeply implicated” in an attack on a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 85 people.
In November 2007, Interpol, the international police organisation, issued a warrant for Vahidi’s arrest.
But Tehran has always denied any connection with the bombing.
First female minister
Before the vote, president Ahmadinejad, whose re-election in June prompted street protests and trials, appealed to parliament to approve his team, saying it would deliver a “punch” to Iran’s enemies.
Out of the three nominations rejected by the legislators were two of the three female ministers proposed by the president. Sousan Keshvaraz and Fatemeh Ajorlou were proposed as education and welfare ministers respectively.
But the third female candidate was endorsed by the parliament : Marziyeh Vahid Dastjerdi, a gynaecologist and obstetrician, for the position of health minister.
Dastjerdi (photo, from bbc.co.uk) will be the first female minister since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
The third person the legislators rejected is Ahmadinejad’s choice of energy minister. However they accepted Massoud Mirkazemi, a relative newcomer.
Mirkazemi will be Iran’s oil minister, but he received the lowest number of votes of the approved ministers, just 147.
Iran is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter and crude sales account for most state revenue.
Though he was commerce minister in Ahmadinejad’s outgoing government, Mirkazemi has been criticised for alleged lack of experience, like several other nominees.
Mirkazemi will face the challenge of boosting oil and gas output under US and UN sanctions, which were imposed because of a dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Success in Parliament
“President Ahmadinejad introduced 21 ministers – three of them have been rejected, none of them in sensitive positions,” saidAlireza Ronaghi, Al Jazeera’s Tehran correspondent. According to him this result was largely a success for Iranian president.
“The two women who have been rejected out of the three ministers that Ahmadinejad nominated, parliament is going to be blamed for that in the future … Ahmadinejad had a much harder time four years ago.”
At the beginning of his first term as president, in 2005, Ahmadinejad had had four of his first choice nominees rejected by the parliament.
This time, despite the three rejections, the cabinet can start working. Its first meeting has been scheduled for Sunday by the president, state radio said. The president has three months to propose new candidates in order to replace those voted down by the 290-seat parliament.