Hundreds of Iranian students have criticized President Hassan Rouhani for his latest choice for Minister of Science, Technology and Research, who oversees higher education institutions.
In a letter addressed to the Iranian president, 525 students have said that his nominee for the job had a proven record in neglecting students’ rights and freedoms.
President Rouhani was sworn-in for a second term on August 5 of this year, but so far he has not succeeded to appoint anyone as science minister.
According to Mahmoud Sadeghi, a pro-reform Iranian MP, President Rouhani has nominated more than 10 people for the office, however, they have all been rejected by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Based on media reports, Rouhani’s latest choice is Mansour Gholami, the President of Hamadan's Boo Ali Sina University.
In their protest letter, students reminded Rouhani of his campaign promises for making universities safe, free, and independent and warned him not to appoint someone who would undermine these goals.
In a second letter, several student organizations accused Rouhani's latest choice for the ministry of science not only responsible for the academic “downfall” of Hamedan University, but also for the suspension of many students who were supporting political reforms in the country.
Students also accuse Gholami of preventing reformist students from having publications and associations.
In an interview with Iranian media, MP Sadeghi mentioned the student allegations against Rouhani’s new nominee, but expressed support for Gholami. He is not an “ideal” candidate, but he could be an alternative for getting out of the current “limbo”, Sadeghi said. The MP was referring to the fact that other candidates were all disapproved by the supreme leader.
Based on the Islamic Republic constitution, the president does not need to seek supreme leader’s approval for his cabinet nominees, but in course of time, a tradition has been established that Khamenei should pre-approve the candidates for some key ministries, including the ministry of science.
Some MPs, including Mahmoud Sadeghi and Ali Motahari, deputy speaker of Iran's parliament criticized the practice, arguing it would limit president’s freedom to do his job.
Last Monday, Motahari said that the President should nominate a person who is considered qualified, instead of waiting for approval by others.
In a Tweet on Tuesday, Sadeghi asked the office of the supreme leader to provide details about his role in the nomination process “in order to eliminate doubts” in this regard.