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Rouhani Nominating New Ministers As Iran Faces A Deep Recession

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appeared before parliament on Aug. 28 to defend his government's handling of Iran's economic crisis.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has chosen his nominees for the ministries of roads, economy industry, and labor to be announced perhaps as early as Tuesday.

The Iranian parliament, Majles, dismissed Rouhani's labor and economy ministers last month and Rouhani is replacing the ministers of roads and industry.

President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran in May and reimpose sanctions has pushed Iran’s economy into recession and the country’s hardliners have attacked Rouhani’s government claiming it is unable to cope with the situation. Consequently, parliament has impeached two of his ministers.

The International Monetary Fund announced on October 8 that Iran’s Economy is in a recession, which will become much worse in 2019.

Rouhani has reportedly chosen the current minister of industry, mining and trade, Mohammad Shariatmadari as the new labor minister, but the other three nominees are new faces. These include Ali Akbar Hajmohammadi as the minister of roads and urban development, Reza Veyseh as the minister of industry, mining and trade, and Farhad Dejpasand as the minister of economy and finance, ILNA reported.

The Majles will subsequently vet the nominees and cast its vote of confidence for the successful nominees.

Mohamad Shariatmadari was supposed to report to parliament on Monday to respond to questions before his upcoming impeachment, but now that Rouhani is removing him from his post and appointing him at a new ministerial post, the call for his impeachment would be ignored, although he needs to be vetted for his new post. However, the new nomination explains why he did not report to the Majles on Monday although MPs were waiting for him.

Shariatmadari who has served as trade minister under former President Khatami, won the highest number of votes of confidence from the Majles as the industry minister twice under President Rouhani.

However, his performance during the past year has been harshly criticized by media and the Majles although he has not been impeached yet, thanks to his close links to Khamenei and the Intelligence Ministry where he has previously served as deputy minister for several years.

Reza Veyseh, the man who is to replace Shariatmadari, was born in 1955 and has served as an aide to Iran's first vice-president Es'haq Jahangiri, as well as working as board manager at the Iranian Industries Development and Renovation Organization.

Veyseh has an ill reputation as the man who put the government in charge of Iran's automobile industry.

Farhad Dejpasand, the nominee for the post of minister of economy and finance, is an assistant professor at Tehran's Shahid Beheshti University. He is currently working as head of research center at the plan and budget organization. He has also served as a deputy to the chairman of Iran's planning and budget organization.

Ali Akbar Hajmohammadi who has been nominated as the new roads minister also comes from the Planning and Budget Organization.

Hajmohammadi who is going to be one of the youngest ministers in Rouhani's cabinet, was appointed less than a year ago to a new office at the PBO to monitor and evaluate managerial skills across the Rouhani administration.

The nominations mark the deep rooted differences between PBO Chief Vice-President Mohammad Baqer Nobakht and Vice-President Jahangiri.

Both of these officials have tried to control Iran's ailing economy by placing their aides and allies in charge.

The background and career record of three of the nominees as reported by ILNA, indicates that Nobakht continues to have the upper hand in the rivalry that has its roots deep in the history of Iran's two major centrist political parties, The Executives of Construction (where Jahangiri comes from) and the Moderation and Development Party, which is Nobakht's power base.