Majlis Rejects Another Ministerial Nominee

Majlis Rejects Another  Ministerial Nominee
Majlis Rejects Another  Ministerial Nominee

Parliament rejected President Hassan Rouhani's fourth pick for the post of minister of science, research and technology on Tuesday.

Fakhreddin Ahmadi Danesh-Ashtiani failed to obtain a vote of approval when 171 lawmakers voted against his nomination, 70 voted in favor and 16 abstained. As a result, the president's nominee did not obtain half plus one of the votes needed to enter the cabinet.

Rouhani was present at parliament and gave a speech in support of his choice, IRNA reported.

He had named Ahmadi Danesh-Ashtiani last Tuesday nearly three weeks after parliament rejected another of his nominees for the controversial post.  

Some conservative parliamentarians have implied that Rouhani’s candidates have been 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” on the events that are referred to as “sedition” as well as sympathizing with the reformists.

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.

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 later.  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. Najafi's term as caretaker minister ends this Thursday.

 Leader's Decision  

Meanwhile, an advisor to Chairman of the Guardian Council Ayatollah Ahmad Jannai, told IRNA on Tuesday, "The law has not envisaged for cases when a ministry remains without a minister for more than three months, so the decision in this regard rests with the Leader."

The Guardian Council is tasked with interpreting the Constitution.

"Article 135 of the Constitution requires the president to select a temporary caretaker for departments without a minister, for a period of up to three months, thus no one can perform caretaker duties for a period of more than three months," Abbasali Kadkhodaei said.  

Elsewhere, a member of the Majlis presiding board said after the end of the term of Mr. Najafi as caretaker minister on 20 November, the president himself should take over the ministry until a replacement is appointed.

Seyyed Sharif Hosseini said under the current circumstances any other course of action requires a decree by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.