News / Middle East

Rouhani Defends Cabinet Choices in Iran Parliament Debate

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a debate in parliament on his proposed cabinet, in Tehran August 12, 2013.Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a debate in parliament on his proposed cabinet, in Tehran August 12, 2013.
x
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a debate in parliament on his proposed cabinet, in Tehran August 12, 2013.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a debate in parliament on his proposed cabinet, in Tehran August 12, 2013.
Reuters
President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday he had chosen a cabinet to overcome Iran's economic crisis and diplomatic isolation as parliament began debating whether to approve his proposed ministers.

A relatively moderate, mid-ranking Shi'ite cleric, Rouhani took office on August 3 after scoring a landslide in the June 14 presidential election over more conservative rivals.

He has promised to combat high inflation and unemployment, pursue a more “constructive” foreign policy and allow greater social freedoms than hardline predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Rouhani, who won the support of centrist and reformist voters but who also has good ties to conservative insiders, said he had chosen a cabinet from across Iran's factions on the basis of their experience rather than political loyalties.

”Your vote of confidence in the ministers is not just a vote for the individuals, it is a vote for the whole government and its plans,” the Iranian president told parliament. Parliament is expected to vote on Rouhani's cabinet choices on Wednesday.

Many of his nominees are seasoned technocrats who served under centrist former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami. But conservative factions in parliament are likely to oppose some of his choices.

Though widely recognized as an experienced and capable manager, proposed oil minister Bijan Zanganeh is, according to conservatives, too close to pro-reform opposition leaders who protested against what they called a rigged presidential vote in 2009.

Zanganeh and Mohammad Ali Najafi, a technocrat picked for education minister, visited Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after the 2009 election to speak on behalf of the opposition leaders, who are now under house arrest.

Conservatives refer to the months of street unrest that followed the vote as a “sedition,” and reformists have been largely purged from powerful posts in the years since.

Ruhollah Hosseinian, a “principlist” conservative in parliament, predicted on Saturday that 80 percent of Rouhani's cabinet nominees would be approved, ISNA news agency said.

But he said the assembly would bar those “who made statements in parliament and did not distance themselves from the sedition.”
 
The shadow of “sedition”

Hossein Shariatmadari, hand-picked by Khamenei to edit the influential hardline daily Kayhan, wrote in an editorial on Monday that “the place for those who were present in the sedition is prison and not the ministry.”

Conservative member of parliament Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani said the house could not ignore “the issue of the 2009 sedition.” Facing Najafi, who along with other ministerial nominees was present during the debate, he asked: “Do you believe that what happened in 2009 was fraud or not?”

Ministers have not addressed the parliament, but have been meeting with lawmakers on the sidelines.

In a possible measure of support for the cabinet in parliament, Fars news agency said 148 lawmakers had requested to speak in favor of Rouhani's cabinet on Monday and 18 against.

In his speech, Rouhani said the oil ministry required “active diplomacy” and endorsed Zanganeh for the post.

Western sanctions imposed over Iran's disputed nuclear program have halved Tehran's oil exports since 2011, and its aging oilfields need crucial upkeep.

In addition to repairing the economy, Rouhani has pledged to improve Iran's image abroad, which was tarnished by Ahmadinejad's bellicose statements against Israel and questioning of the Holocaust.

On Monday, Rouhani said his government would pursue “threat prevention and alleviation of tensions” in its foreign policy.

His pick for foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, is a U.S.-educated former U.N. ambassador who has been at the center of several rounds of secret negotiations to try to overcome decades of estrangement between Washington and Tehran.

Rouhani said he had known Zarif since the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war and called him the best man for the job, saying Iran needed a “completely aware, efficient and expert” foreign minister.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid