Majlis Factions Positive on Ministerial Nominees

Majlis Factions Positive on Ministerial NomineesMajlis Factions Positive on Ministerial Nominees

Two major parliamentary factions have favorable views of the proposed nominees for three ministries, as a Tuesday confirmation session approaches, in which they would demonstrate their competence and win votes of confirmation in the new, more government-friendly Majlis.

Seyyed Reza Salehi Amiri, Masoud Soltanifar and Fakhreddin Ahmadi Danesh-Ashtiani are nominated by President Hassan Rouhani for the ministries of culture, sports and education, respectively.

The appointments came after the president on October 21 accepted the resignations of ministers of sports, culture and education, Mahmoud Goudarzi, Ali Jannati and Ali Asghar Fani respectively, who had tendered their requests to step down after serving for over three years.

The move, which was described as a partial reshuffle of the Cabinet to improve its efficiency, came as a surprise to political circles, as only eight months are left for the incumbent administration.

Mohammad Reza Aref, the head of the leading Hope parliamentary faction, a coalition of reformists and government backers, said on Sunday that all the three nominees are "distinguished and competent".

"The central council of the faction has a positive view on them," he told reporters after a meeting of the council of the 103-member group on Sunday.

"In tomorrow's session of the assembly, our official opinion will be announced," he added, hoping that the nominees will succeed in taking the top positions. This is while all the three hopefuls have earlier failed to secure the vote of confidence in the previous principlist-dominated parliament in 2013.

Salehi Amiri, 55, the head of the National Library and Archives Organization, was first proposed for the Sports and Youth Ministry but was not confirmed, just like another nominee for the same ministry, Soltanifar.

Soltanifar, 57, was later assigned by the president to head the Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization.

Ahmadi Danesh-Ashtiani, 61, was also rejected by the Majlis for the Science Ministry.

  No Guarantee

The rival faction of principlists, the 93-member Velayat, has not declared its position on the nominees, but some of its members are opposed to Ahmadi-Ashtiani, citing alleged political mistakes in the past and lack of familiarity with the Education Ministry.

Aref described Ahmadi-Ashtiani as a veteran teacher who has extended outstanding services to the community.

"He is keenly aware of cultural and educational issues. I hope he will be elected with a high number of votes and will be able to fulfill legitimate demands of the educational community," Aref said.

In recent days, the nominees have held various meetings with lawmakers in specialized commissions and factions to introduce themselves and elaborate on their plans.

The third parliamentary faction, which belongs to independents, is also positive on the nominees. Gholamali Jafarzadeh, spokesman of the 90-member body, told reporters after a factional meeting on Sunday that "there is a near consensus among members on giving confirmation votes to the three candidates".

The proposed replacements need a simple majority of votes in the 289-member assembly to take office.

Although factions play an important role in the parliament, experience shows their favorable opinion does not fully guarantee ministerial seats.

On October 19, the president issued a decree appointing Mohammad Bothaei, Abbas Salehi and Nasrollah Sajjadi as caretaker ministers of education, culture and sports respectively.

The caretakers can serve in their posts for a maximum of three months.


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