Majlis Says No to Rouhani’s Pick, Again

Majlis Says No to Rouhani’s Pick, Again
Majlis Says No to Rouhani’s Pick, Again

Parliament rejected President Hassan Rouhani's nominee for the post of minister of science, research and technology, leaving the ministry in the hands of a caretaker minister for months to come.

Mahmoud Nili Ahmadabadi failed to obtain a vote of approval when 160 lawmakers voted against his nomination, 79 voted in favor and seven abstained.

In total 246 votes were cast at a session chaired by Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani. Nili Ahmadabadi needed half plus one of the votes to become minister of higher education.

President Hassan Rouhani was present at parliament and gave a speech in support of his choice.

Rouhani had named Nili Ahmadabadi on October 22 two months after the Majlis voted for an impeachment motion to dismiss then minister of higher education Reza Faraji-Dana.

The conservative members of parliament had accused Faraji-Dana of mismanagement, especially concerning the case of students expelled from universities.

The president later expressed regret over the vote and said while he respected the parliament’s right to impeach a minister, “I can’t hide my regret that we can no longer enjoy the services of a qualified and knowledgeable minister.”

A controversial investigation into a case known as “illegal scholarships” awarded by the previous administration which was launched during Faraji-Dana’s tenure was reportedly among the reasons for a no-confidence vote. The president, however, ordered the investigation to be continued and the ministry of higher education published its findings this week.  According to the report, irregularities occurred in the process of awarding scholarships to applicants. In the report, the ministry said it had studied over 3,772 scholarships granted in the period between 2009 and 2013 and found cases in which unqualified candidates received funds from the government. Now with the latest vote by the Majlis, Mohammad Ali Najafi remains caretaker minister of higher education. 

The president appointed Najafi, who himself had failed to obtain the parliament’s confirmation vote for the post of education minister, following the impeachment of Faraji-Dana.

Lawmakers also denied a vote of approval to Jafar Mili Monfared, Rouhani’s original candidate for the post, following his inauguration as president last year.

Some members of parliament have implied that Rouhani’s candidates were rejected by parliament partly due to their alleged involvement in the unrest which occurred after the 2009 presidential election or because they remained silent or failed to take a “proper stance” toward the events that are referred to as “sedition”.