Saturday, September 5, 2009

Deputy Speaker says five to six other ministers barely scraped by

Eight to nine proposed ministers in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cabinet would have been rejected if Leader Ali Khamenei had not interceded with the representatives, according to conservative Deputy Majlis Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar.

Bahonar made the comments Thursday evening at Imam Sadegh University's mosque during an evening meal to break the Ramadan fast organized by the Islamic Society of Engineers. Bahonar is secretary-general of the ISE, of which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also a member.

After a heated debate that lasted several days, the Majlis had earlier turned down three of Ahmadinejad's nominees: Sousan Keshavarz for Education Minister, Fatemeh Ajorlou for Welfare Minister, and Mohammad Ali Abadi for Energy minister.

"If the Supreme Leader's message had not been sent, we suspect that the ministers of oil, industry, commerce, cooperation, transportation and even foreign affairs would also have been rejected," said Bahonar.

Though many Majlis representatives had cited a lack of experience as their reason for questioning Ahmadniejad's choices, Foreign Affairs Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has been in his post for four years. Long considered close to the pragmatic conservatives -- he was campaign manager for Speaker Ali Larijani's 2005 presidential bid -- Mottaki appears to have lost favor with this faction.

The other hapless ministers who have been confirmed, but will face a rocky relation with the Majlis, include a trio who will be crucial to resolving Iran's economic slump: Massoud Mirkazemi at the Oil Ministry, Ali Akbar Mehrabian at Industries and Mines, and Mehdi Ghazanfari at Commerce.