Khatami's Full Cabinet Approved By Parliament Vote of Confidence
Iran's reform-majority Parliament on Wednesday approved all 20 cabinet ministers proposed by moderate President Mohammad Khatami in a re-shuffle for his second term in office, said reports.
According to AFP, the vote came after several days of contentious debate in Parliament, as Khatami's choices came under fire from both his conservative rivals and his own reformist supporters.
"This vote is important for our work and especially the cooperation between the government and Parliament," Khatami said in a message read to deputies after the secret ballot.
Earlier Wednesday he appeared in Parliament and dismissed calls for his cabinet choices to be rejected by the legislature.
"Knowing that some minor changes (in the government) will not be sufficient to solve the problems, I ask of you to vote overwhelmingly for my ministers," Khatami said.
"I am surprised by proposals such as that by Mohtashami, who is a friend, because he should speak with knowledge of the issue," the reformist president said.
Tehran MP Ali Akbar Mohtashami, a close Khatami ally and leading reformist, attacked Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zangeneh, who was re-appointed to the post, during a debate over the proposed ministers ahead of the vote.
Khatami's remarks also appeared to confirm that he was distancing himself from more radical reformers and moderating his political stance after a difficult first term that saw conservatives stymie much of his agenda, said AFP.
A total of 276 MPs were present in Parliament for the vote, with Labour Minister Safdar Hosseini, one of the five new faces in cabinet, receiving the most votes of support with 221.
Conservative Intelligence Minister Ali Yunessi, one of 15 ministers re-appointed by Khatami, received 219 votes and new Economy Minister Tahmasb Mazaheri obtained 193 votes of support.
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi, another returning face from Khatami's first term, got 201 votes.
The ministers with the least votes included re-appointed Housing Minister Ali Abdolali-Zadeh with 153 votes, while Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zangeneh, whose re-nomination drew sharp criticism from MPs, received 166 votes.
Radical reformist MPs fiercely attacked the re-shuffle, saying it was not the bold political stroke they had hoped for after Khatami gained such a large mandate in his June re-election.
Parliament's prolonged debate on the new cabinet, which began on Sunday, included sensitive issues such as the nation's high unemployment rate, the weak economy and inflation.
President Khatami on Sunday delivered a speech before an open session of Parliament giving a brief review of his administration's past performance while defending his choices of ministers to fill his new cabinet.
Khatami crushed his opponents in Iran's June 8 presidential elections, winning an unexpectedly decisive mandate to forge ahead with his controversial democratic reforms.
The president, who also won by a landslide in 1997 when he was first elected to office, will face several obstacles during his second term, including an economically devastating drought, and rampant attempts to smuggle drugs from Afghanistan to Europe via Iran.
But a key challenge comes from the ultraconservative judiciary branch and a range of other entrenched forces.
The 57-year-old president is accused by conservatives of undermining the Islamic regime by allowing unprecedented freedoms.
Throughout his re-election campaign, the mid-ranking cleric vowed that greater freedom was compatible with an Islamic regime, and the only way forward in a nation where two-thirds of the population is under 35.
In fact, ever since his election in 1997 Khatami has been struggling to alter the politics of Iran - Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)