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Rouhani Submits List Of New Ministers To Parliament Amid Complaints

Iranian President Hassan Rohani (2nd R) sits next to Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri (2nd L) during a cabinet meeting in Tehran, July 19, 2017

Hassan Rouhani has submitted to parliament the list of his proposed ministers, days after his inauguration as the re-elected president of Iran.

Parliament must start discussions on the president’s list of nominees within one week and then proceed to accept or reject the candidates. The process can take up to two weeks.

As expected, there will be no women in the new cabinet. In recent days, various officials were indicating that Rouhani does not plan to appoint any women ministers.

This led to criticism by many activists, members of parliament and politicians, who argued that Rouhani campaigned on the premise of more equality and the inclusion of women and younger people in government affairs.

Only one of the proposed ministers is relatively young. Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, 36, who is proposed as minister of communications.

Several politicians belonging to Azeri speaking regions have also complained that no “Turkic speaking” ministers have been proposed.

The representative of Urmia in parliament had earlier threatened that if Rouhani does not appoint Turkic speaking ministers, he should not expect parliamentary backing from the 100-member strong Azeri caucus in the parliament.

But Rouhani has acted upon earlier indications that he intends to replace many ministers. He has named eight new ministers to fill some of the important posts.

The most notable change is the minister of justice. The outgoing minister, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi had come under fire for having been a member of a judicial group that issued orders for the killing of thousands in Iranian prisons in 1988.

However, human rights activists have criticized Rouhani’s new choice as justice minister.

The new candidate Alireza Avayee is also accused of having participated in the same killings, albeit at a local level.

The second notable change is the defense minister, who unlike the outgoing incumbent is not from the Islamic Revolution Guards, but is an army general.

Amir Hatami was already serving as deputy defense minister in the past four years.

President Rouhani’s list of ministers is incomplete, as he has not proposed any name for the ministry of science. The reason is most probably, disagreement with the Supreme Leader, ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Last week, Mostafa Tajzadeh, a reformist activist had said that Rouhani proposed nine names to the Supreme Leader for the post of science minister, who were all rejected. Khamenei’s office in a written statement insisted that the Supreme Leader is sensitive about three ministries of science, Islamic guidance and education.

In addition to these ministries, the Supreme Leader has traditionally a veto power over the defense, intelligence and foreign ministries.

There has been a lot of controversy in the past week about the role of the Supreme Leader in the process of choosing ministers. Reformists have complained that legally the Supreme Leader cannot dictate his will on the president.