Ahmadinejad unveils new cabinet

New faces could be challenged as Iranian president puts choices to parliament.

    Ahmadinejad could be challenged over a lack of experience in his new cabinet [AFP]

    According to the ISNA news agency, Ahmadinejad named Sousan Keshavarz, Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi and Fatemeh Ajorlou as his ministers respectively of education, health, and welfare and social security.

    However, several of Ahmadinejad's choices could face opposition from parliament, with some MPs complaining about a lack of consultation over the posts and the lack of experience of the 11 new faces.

    "Some of these men and women will not earn a vote and some are uncertain, unless they can make themselves known to the parliament within this week," Mohammad Reza Bahonar, an influential MP, told the Mehr news agency on Thursday.

    He said that Dastjerdi, Mohammad Aliabadi, the choice for energy minister, and AbdolReza Sheikholeslami, the new labour minister, were not as "efficient" as the current ministers holding those posts.

    Mehrdad Khonsari, a former Iranian diplomat and analyst at the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies, told Al Jazeera that Iran was going "through a special period, where after the turmoil, the credibility and the legitimacy of the government and the system have been brought into doubt.

    "So extra attention has been paid given the fact that the parliament had been given a special role in trying to restore some form of credibility and hence MPs are probing a lot more than they did before in order to raise public confidence, calm the situation and divert attention from the kinds of things we've been seeing on the streets in the past several months."

    'Experience and expertise'

    Ali Larijani, the parliamentary speaker, also indirectly criticised Ahmadinejad over his picks.

    "Ministers must have enough experience and expertise, otherwise a huge amount of the country's stamina will waste," state radio reported him as saying.

    "A ministry is not a place for tryouts"

    Ali Larijani,
    parliamentary speaker

    "A ministry is not a place for tryouts."

    The parliament will hold a week of discussions on the ministers before voting on each minister separately on September 30.

    Ahmadinejad also appears to have confronted his conservative critics by moving them out of the cabinet.

    The intelligence, culture, health and labour ministers in his previous government - who all protested over an attempt to name a close associate, Esfandiar Mashai, as his senior vice-president - have all been replaced. 

    The response in Iran's media was also lukewarm with with the reformist Mardomsalari newspaper headlining its front page story "A weaker cabinet" and the conservative daily Tehran Emrouz calling it a "surprise cabinet".

    Ahmadinejad has been under fire from some areas of Iran's ruling elite since protests over his disputed re-election were met with a heavy security crackdown that the opposition says left at least 69 people dead.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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