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Iranian Lawmakers Criticize Ahmadinejad's Cabinet Picks


Iranian lawmakers are warning that they may challenge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's picks for his new Cabinet.

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani suggested to state media Thursday that the selection of nominees lacks experience and expertise.

Deputy speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar warned that up to five members of Mr. Ahmadinejad's picks for Cabinet might not receive the approval of lawmakers.

One such nominee is Commerce Minister Massoud Mirkazemi, who is poised to become the country's new oil minister. Mirkazemi is seen as a strong ally of the president but has little known oil industry experience.

Mr. Ahmadinejad failed to get his first three choices for oil minister in 2005 after lawmakers complained of their lack of oil experience. Oil exports account for 80 percent of Iran's revenues.

Among Mr. Ahmadinejad's other picks, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki would keep his job and former Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar would become the new interior minister.

Also, three women would become ministers for education, welfare and health. It would be the first time a woman has become a minister in the Islamic republic's 30-year history.

At least three of Mr. Ahmadinejad's nominees - including Mirkazemi and Najjar - had ties with the country's elite Revolutionary Guard, which is a powerful base of support for the president.

According to Iran's constitution, the president has two weeks after being sworn in to set up a government and submit his Cabinet nominees to parliament for approval. Mr. Ahmadinejad was sworn in for his second term as president on August 5 and had until Wednesday to submit his picks.

The president's re-election in June was fiercely disputed, sparking massive opposition protests that led to security officials detaining thousands.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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