EghtesadOnline: The proposed ministerial lineup for President Hassan Rouhani's second tenure was almost totally confirmed by the parliament on Sunday, in a clear display of support for the centrist cleric to keep up his push toward broadening international engagement and reforming the state-run economy.
All but one of 17 aspirants received the vote of confidence to take over ministerial portfolios in the Sunday session that capped five days of confirmation hearings, ISNA reported.
Habibollah Bitaraf, a two-time minister nominated to head the Energy Ministry, was the only rejected candidate. Only 133 votes were cast in his favor by 288 lawmakers present at the session so he failed to garner a simple majority.
The proposed defense minister, Lieutenant General Amir Hatami, was the most popular in the 290-member assembly with 261 votes in his favor, and the proposed telecoms minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, the youngest in the lineup, was the least popular who squeezed through with 152 votes in his favor, Financial Tribune reported.
Among the big names who managed to enter the Cabinet were Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif with 236 votes, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh with 230 votes, Economy Minister Masoud Karbasian with 240 votes and Industries Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari with 241 votes.
The first meeting of the new Cabinet was held later in the day.
The position of science minister remains vacant, as the president did not name any nominee on August 8.
***Difficult Path Ahead
Before the vote began, Rouhani, who won a 24-million-vote mandate in the presidential poll in May, took the floor to defend his choices for a second time after he spoke up for them last Tuesday.
Rouhani told the parliament he has assembled the Cabinet upon careful reflection and extensive consultations, with an eye to form an inclusive government representing the whole nation.
"[Political] persuasions have never been a factor in selecting candidates and this government is for principlism, reformism and moderation," he said.
The chief executive said a difficult path lies ahead for the government to overcome challenges and push the country toward progress, particularly considering the fact that it is running on a shoestring budget and has a crippling debt to pay off.
However, Rouhani said he would work hard to make good on his campaign promises to bring "security, freedom and calm" for the nation, and invited all to join hands with his administration to create jobs, stimulate investment and attract high tech.
The president also said the primary goal of his government is to protect the 2015 nuclear deal from being killed by the US and other adversaries.
Hardening the US tone on Iran, US President Donald Trump has repeatedly hammered the deal and is currently seeking ways to pull out of it.
*** Smooth Time at Majlis
The job for the 68-year-old president to get his second Cabinet approved was easier than the first, as the current assembly is more aligned with the government than the previous principlist-dominated Majlis.
In 2013, three nominees included in his first ministerial list could not garner sufficient confidence votes.
Rouhani has replaced roughly half of his first Cabinet members, mostly in ministerial roles related to economy and culture, indicating his attempts to address weak points of his first-term performance.
Later on Sunday, Rouhani appointed Sattar Mahmoudi and Zia Hashemi as caretakers to run the energy and science ministries respectively.
According to the Constitution, the caretaker can serve up to three months before the president names a minister-to-be.
Mahmoud Vaezi, the telecoms minister in Rouhani's first-term Cabinet, was appointed as presidential chief of staff on Sunday.