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Rouhani Admits Regime Crisis, Hands Culture Ministry to Intelligence Colonel | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani takes part in a news conference near the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

London-Several weeks after a dispute emerged concerning the surprising cabinet shakeup approved by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani seven months before the end of his term, the president proposed to Parliament on Tuesday three of his candidates, asking lawmakers to grant them their vote of confidence.

The majority of Parliament approved the three candidates to head the ministries of Sports and Youth Affairs, Culture and Islamic Guidance, and Education.

In an open parliamentary session held in Tehran, the Parliament discussed the file of the three candidates after Rouhani delivered a speech defending the performance of his government and replying to those who have criticized his economic policy.

Rouhani said his government succeeded in controlling inflation and bringing it down from 40 to 8 percent.

Iran’s President attended the Parliament session accompanied by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri and Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi.

Rouhani attacked his opponents in the Iranian regime, and announced that his government “does not fear the pressure (exerted on him), biased accusations and sabotage.”

Iran’s press has been busy with Rouhani’s cabinet reshuffle. Media outlets opposed to the president considered his decision to sack three ministers, who are in direct contact with the society, as a step to influence public opinion prior to next May’s presidential elections.

However, media outlets close to the president linked the shakeup to the shift introduced to the previous Parliament’s lineup, which was controlled by a majority of Rouhani’s opponents. The previous Parliament had rejected the candidacy of the three ministers.

But on Tuesday, Iran’s new Parliament approved the nomination of Reza Salehi Amiri for the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance after receiving 180 out of 275 votes in Parliament. Eighty nine MPs objected to his candidacy. In the past few days, cultural figures criticized Rouhani for choosing Salehi, a colonel at the Iranian Intelligence, to head the culture ministry.

The Iranian president defended his choice, telling the Parliament: “He (Salehi) emanates from the core of the regime and shares the same concerns of the regime, and is familiar with the country’s cultural diversity.”

Salehi Amiri is the current head of Iran’s National Library.

The candidate for the Education Ministry, Fakhroddin Ahmadi Danesh-Ashtiani, received 157 votes while 111 lawmakers voted against him.

Ashtiani was a candidate for the same post in 2013. However, he was accused of being involved in the “2009 Reform Plot” and its repercussions following the large arrests made during protests across the country.

Also, 193 lawmakers gave their approval to Massoud Soltanifar for the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs. Seventy two lawmakers voted against him and nine abstained. Soltanifar is the current vice president and the head of the Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran.