(AFP) – Aug 5, 2008
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran's conservative-dominated parliament on Tuesday approved three new government ministers named by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, despite mounting criticism of his repeated cabinet reshuffles.
New Interior Minister Ali Kordan, a former deputy oil minister with previous service in the judiciary and the elite Revolutionary Guards, was confirmed in office by 169 votes to 100.
Economy Minister Shamseddin Hosseini, a former deputy welfare and social affairs minister, won the support of 217 MPs against 52 who opposed his nomination.
Following their dismissals, both their predecessors -- Mostafa Pour Mohammadi and Davoud Danesh Jaafari -- had joined growing criticism of Ahmadinejad's policies from conservative as well as reformist ranks.
Hamid Behbahani was also approved for the transport ministry by 181 votes to 88.
Defending his nominations in a speech to parliament, Ahmadinejad praised Kordan's "thirty year service to the Islamic Revolution in sensitive and important positions."
He described Hosseini as "a young man, brought up by the revolution, who has so much knowledge and commitment to the principles of the revolution."
Ahmadinejad's cabinet changes have met criticism from both moderates and conservatives. Several fired ministers have also hit out at the president over his policies, especially his handling of economy.
Since coming to power in 2005, Ahmadinejad has now replaced eight ministers as well as the heads of the management and planning organisation and the central bank, who have seats in the cabinet. One minister died while in office.
Under Iran's constitution, the 21-member cabinet needs a new vote of confidence from parliament if more than half of its ministers change.
Domestic criticism against Ahmadinejad has intensified over the past year amid popular discontent over inflation rates of around 25 percent which economists blame on the government's expansionary economic policies.
The dismissed transport minister was the only one who had also served in the reformist cabinet of Mohammad Khatami before 2005.
Whereas his more moderate predecessors Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani each made only half a dozen changes to their cabinets during eight years in office, Ahmadinejad has now made more in less than half that time.
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