One or two picks may lose confidence vote

Rouhani’s cabinet awaiting approval

August 19, 2017

TEHRAN – President Hassan Rouhani will be speaking to the parliament tomorrow in a last-ditch effort to persuade 290-seat parliament into casting a vote of confidence for his 17-memebr cabinet roster.

Rouhani handed his list of ministerial nominees to parliament three days after he was sworn in on August 5. He delayed introducing a nominee for the Science Ministry.

The parliament began debating whether to approve Rouhani’s proposed ministers on Tuesday. Rouhani said on the same day he was hoping all the picks will be granted votes of confidence.

Nearly 24 million of 56 eligible voters cast their ballots for Rouhani, a moderate sexagenarian cleric, for a second four-year tenure.

“We do our best to announce the vote by tomorrow’s midday,” said Behrouz Ne’mati, the parliament’s presiding board speaker, on Saturday.

The parliament began debating whether to approve Rouhani’s proposed ministers on Tuesday. Rouhani said on the same day he was hoping all the picks will be granted votes of confidence.

“I’m very hopeful that all the 17 ministers receive confidence vote from the Islamic Consultative Assembly (parliament),” the president told lawmakers.

Rouhani, who won the support of centrist and reformist voters, said he had chosen the cabinet on the basis of capability and after “extensive consultation and performance assessments”.

He added, “I’m committed to the fulfillment of plans and upholding of the people’s rights.”

From among the 17 nominees, three have already served at ministerial positions more than two times and seven are novices.   

Rouhani made structural, economic reforms, “daring” decision-making and moderation key themes of his parliamentary hearing on Tuesday.

“The government is resolute to bring about more structural reforms in its second four-year term,” Rouhani said in his two-hour long speech in the legislative body.  “The government will decide daringly yet tactfully and with foresight.”

Eight members of the outgoing cabinet have been replaced, including Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia. Ministers of foreign affairs, oil, health, health and intelligence are expected to win strongest votes.  
The headline choice for Rouhani's cabinet is Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s former UN ambassador and the incumbent foreign minister. The U.S.-educated Zarif was Tehran’s chief negotiator on the nuclear deal reached in 2015.

Another big name in the list is Bijan Zanganeh, who also served under Khatami and Rafsanjani. Under his leadership Iran succeeded to regain its share of the oil market after sanctions against the country were lifted based on the July 2015 landmark nuclear deal, which went into effect in January 2016.

Also, under his management the Oil Ministry has struck contracts with the French Total and other contracts are on the way.

Despite the high-profile figures, there are doubts if the entire list gets approved. “Experience shows certain proposed ministers may not reach the quorum,” said Ne’mati, adding, “I can’t predict, but it is likely for one or two nominees to fall short.”

Media outlets have speculated that picks for education, communication and information technology, interior ministries will not survive, citing past performance. In 2013, Rouhani's nominees for education, science and sports were turned down.

AK/PA

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