Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended his proposed Cabinet ministers Sunday as lawmakers began debates over his choices. During the three-day debates, Ahmadinejad’s nominees must clarify their plans for the next four years and prove their credentials to the conservative-dominated parliament.
“I hope the majlis (parliament) will firmly approve all ministers and with a decisive vote it will turn the hopes of ill-wishers into despair,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech to lawmakers.
He also said his June 12 presidential victory confirmed that Iran wanted to “continue on the same path.” “We are committed to spreading justice, preserving the national dignity, achieve progress and confront the bullying powers. We will continue to support oppressed nations and cooperate constructively with all nations except the Zionist regime,” he added.
Nevertheless, Ahmadinejad’s choices will likely be challenged. Ahmadinejad still faces harsh criticism from the pro-reform opposition that maintains his June reelection victory was illegitimate. He also faces pressure from conservatives who have accused the President of accumulating power by appointing loyalists to key posts.
Of the 21 ministers proposed by the President, 14 are new. In a speech given Friday at Tehran University, Ahmadinejad said, “In choosing the cabinet I have not considered my personal views... but I have only considered what is in the country's interest.”
“All members of my team have clean and clear records, and are highly-educated and efficient,” he added. To take office, the ministers require the parliament’s vote of confidence. Rejected ministers will have to be replaced by Ahmadinejad within 15 days.