Rouhani under fire for male-only cabinet
TEHRAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani put forward a new cabinet lineup yesterday that was immediately criticized by reformists for its lack of women or young people. The ministerial line-up, which must still be approved by parliament, also lacked minorities and actually increased the average age compared to Rouhani’s first term.
“The lack of women ministers shows we are treading water,” Shahindokht Mowlaverdi, Rouhani’s outgoing vice president for women’s affairs, told the Etamad daily after news of the line-up was leaked. Many on social media said Rouhani, a 68year-old moderate cleric who whipped up reformist support to secure re-election in May, was failing to keep his campaign promises of greater diversity.
“The people’s message in the last two elections has had little reflection in the proposed cabinet,” tweeted Mohammad Karroubi, son of jailed opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi. “How can you speak of equality of the entire nation and ignore women and religious minorities?” he added. There were few major changes in the cabinet, with the key figures in Iran’s efforts to rebuild ties with the WestForeign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganehretaining their positions.
Average age 58
The one surprise was the appointment of Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, a 35year-old engineer and by far the youngest addition, who is set to take over as telecoms minister. But even with his appointment, which puts an opponent of censorship at the heart of government, the average age of the cabinet remains at 58. Sunnis, who make up around 10 percent of the Shiite-majority nation, were also left out of the new government.
Rouhani did replace the defence minister, Major General Hossein Dehghan, with his deputy, General Amir Hatami-the first time in more than two decades that the post has been filled by someone from the regular army rather than the elite Revolutionary Guards. And the deputy economy minister, Masoud Karbasian, also replaced his boss, Ali Tayebnia. Analysts say Rouhani will stick with his general push to increase foreign investment and improve the management of the stagnant economy.
Over the past week, the expected lack of women has been a focus of criticism by reformists, who say Rouhani is likely bowing to pressure from the religious establishment. In his first term, Rouhani did have three women among his large cohort of vice presidents, who do not require parliamentary approval. —AFP
TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani, center, delivers a speech after his swearing-in ceremony for the second term in office, at the parliament. — AP