Iran's Rouhani presents new male-only cabinet

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 08.08.2017 21:33
Updated 08.08.2017 21:35

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani proposed Cabinet members for his second term in office that again included no women, Iranian state TV reported yesterday.

According to the report, Rouhani submitted a list of 17 nominees to Parliament. Under the proposal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh and Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi all are to retain their posts.

Acting defense minister, Gen. Amir Hatami, is expected to officially take over that portfolio. If so, Hatami will be the first defense minister selected from national army in nearly three decades.

Since 1989, Iranian defense ministers were either civilians or more recently, members of the powerful Revolutionary Guard, a separate force from Iran's military that answers only to the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran and the United States frequently have run-ins in the Persian Gulf, nearly all involving the Guard's navy.

The rest of the names on Rouhani's list are either current ministers or their deputies and officials. A nominee for science minister has not been announced yet. Parliament is to vote later next week on the Cabinet.

Meanwhile, the new cabinet line-up was immediately criticized by reformists for its lack of women. The ministerial line-up, which must still be approved by parliament, also lacked minorities and actually increased the average age compared to Rouhani's first term. "The lack of women ministers shows we are treading water," Shahindokht Mowlaverdi, Rouhani's outgoing vice president for women's affairs, told the Etamad daily after news of the line-up was leaked.

Many on social media said Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate cleric who whipped up reformist support to secure re-election in May, was failing to keep his campaign promises of greater diversity. "The people's message in the last two elections has had little reflection in the proposed cabinet," tweeted Mohammad Karroubi, son of jailed opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi. "How can you speak of equality of the entire nation and ignore women and religious minorities?" he added.

In his first term, Rouhani did have three women among his large cohort of vice presidents, who do not require parliamentary approval. The sole female minister since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution came under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani's hardline predecessor, whose health minister Marzieh Dastjerdi served between 2009 and 2013.

The 68-year-old Rouhani was sworn into office on Saturday. He was re-elected in May on the platform of pursuing a "path of coexistence and interaction with the world." Rouhani said he prefers "peace to war and reform to rigidness." His administration signed the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with world powers that curbed Tehran's uranium enrichment program in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

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