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Khatami Says Voters' Wishes Should Be Respected In New Cabinet

Mohammad Khatami, Iran's ex-president, casts his ballot-- May 19, 2017

As President Hassan Rouhani is preparing to announce his new cabinet, former president Mohammad Khatami has has weighed in saying that important demands of the voters should be considered.

In an indirect call to Rouhani, the reformist politician said on Monday, “while the cabinet should be aligned with the [views of] Supreme Leader, it should at the same time be able to understand people's demand and take steps to fulfill them.”

President Hassan Rouhani who is supposed to introduce his new cabinet on Tuesday, has been in recent days under pressure by reformists. They want to see more like-minded ministers in the government.

They say Rouhani could not have won the presidential election if they did not stand behind him.

In fact, their candidate Eshagh Jahangiri, who during the election campaign became very popular among the voters due to his harsh criticism against the conservative rivals, withdrew from the race to smooth the path for incumbent Rouhani.

Endorsement by former president Khatami and other famous reformist figures helped Rouhani to beat his conservative challenger Ebrahim Raisi who was reportedly favored by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Now the reformists are concerned that Rouhani does not reward them enough for their efforts. “ After victory, some people forget who worked hard for them,” said Mohammad Reza Aref, a leading reformist member of parliament, recently. Aref added, there was no doubt that Rouhani owed his success in the election to the reform camp. Therefore, the president should coordinate the formation of his new government with reformist MPs.

Some of the president's aides rejected the demand. “Asking for a share in the selection of cabinet is not a good idea,” Mohammad Vaeizi, the minister for telecommunication told Tasnim News Agency. The president would not bow to pressure regarding the selection of cabinet members, Vaeizi said later in another interview.

In response to this and other similar criticism, former president Khatami said on Monday, “ we don't want a share, but people's demands are important, and those who put a lot of effort in elections should not be treated unfairly. They deserve at least equal opportunities in the society.”

The statements of President Rouhani in recent weeks indicate significant changes are in the offing in his new cabinet.

In a strange move, Rouhani criticized some of the members of his own cabinet for being passive during the election and not doing enough in defending the achievements of his government against the attacks by conservatives.

The biggest challenge he would face in this regard, was the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who wanted to have a say in the appointment of at least five ministers, believes Mehdi Mahdavi Azad, a political commentator residing in Germany in an interview with Radio Farda.