After four sessions of vetting the credentials of President Hassan Rouhani’s nominees for ministerial positions in his new cabinet, the Iranian Parliament approved 16 of 17 of them on Sunday on August 20.
For each nominee, the parliament held separate ballots.
The nominee for energy minister, Habibollah Bitaraf, lost a vote of confidence. From a total number of 288 MPs present, 133 legislators voted against him. Bitaraf, a former leader of the “students” who stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took 52 diplomats hostage in 1980, garnered 132 of the votes.
Rouhani is legally bound to appoint a caretaker for the Energy Ministry, and has three months to nominate a new candidate.
Meanwhile, the nominee for defense minister, General Amir Hatami, with 261 votes in his favor, set a record for Rouhani’s second term cabinet.
General Hatami is the first member of the Iranian regular army to be installed as defense minister in more than three decades, in the Islamic Republic. He replaces an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander, General Hossein Dehghan.
At the bottom of the list of approved nominees, Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, the president’s pick to lead the Communications and Information Technology Ministry, also got through with the least number of proponents, 152.
The position of science and higher education minister in the president’s all-male cabinet remains vacant.Rouhani, reportedly nominated new ministers in coordination with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but apparently they have been unable to agree on a nominee for the post.