The Iranian legislative assembly, the Majlis, continued to examine the qualifications of the cabinet ministers proposed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday while the Iranian people continue to challenge and protest the official results of the June 12 election. Meanwhile, on Friday during this Friday's public prayers, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that under current circumstances, it was expedient for Majlis lawmakers to trust him and cast votes of confidence for his proposed ministers.
Prominent fellow-Principalist figures in the Majlis, such as Ahmad Tavakkoli and Mohammad Reza Bahonar, who have spoken in opposition to Ahmadinejad's proposed cabinet, also said that the tenth administration's train must get on track. According to analysts, Ahmadinejad, who is dealing with popular protests, mass arrest of journalists and political activists, horrendous crimes at the Kahrizah detention facility and Tehran University dormitories, which led to the death of a number of Iranian youth, is seeking to form a cabinet as soon as possible in order to escape accountability and declare all the issues to be moot.
One-Man Nightly Parties
According to reports, representatives supporting Ahmadinejad have surpassed the conventional norms for lobbying and enticing other Majlis representatives to vote for Ahmadinejad's proposed ministers. Parleman News website reported yesterday that Ahmadinejad had been holding nightly parties since the beginning of Ramadan, lobbying law makers for votes of confidence under the guise of Iftar (the braking of the fast at sunset) celebrations. According to this report, Ahmadinejad's nightly parties - sometimes with only one attendee - have become more frequent since the Majlis has begun discussing the qualification of proposed ministers.
Laptops for 30 Lawmakers
The situation has gotten so out of control that, during one of the Iftar parties held at the Simorgh Hotel, boxes were placed in the vehicles of 30 representatives by government agents, supposedly containing laptops. The action enticed the Majlis leadership to send short notes to lawmakers asking them not to participate in such parties and Iftar gatherings.
Some media networks have announced the donation of 100 million Tomans to some lawmakers. In this midst, Hamid Rasaei, a pro-Ahmadinejad lawmaker, denied the reports, claiming instead that, in a common and procedural move, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani had donated one million Tomans to every lawmaker to provide financial assistance to needy constituents.
Previously, a Principalist Majlis representative, Ali Mottahari, had expressly announced, "Some proposed ministers have engaged in belittling behavior such as giving gifts and holding unusual parties and practicing ugly lobbying to entice honorable representatives to cast votes of confidence."
Another Principalist lawmaker, Ahmad Tavakkoli, criticized the administration's Iftar parties for representatives, asking, "Would it have been a problem if the president and proposed ministers, who are spending their time these days briefing the lawmakers during Iftar ceremonies or other gatherings, had engaged the committees and factions prior to their acceptance of ministerial offers?"
At the same time, Sirous Sazdar, member of the Majlis Line of the Imam faction, blamed the weakness of the proposed ministers and their trouble to secure votes of confidence for the parties and ceremonies. He told the Line of the Imam faction's website, "When private parties are held not with committees or factions, but with individuals, obviously arrangements and promises are made."
Noting that such arrangements are unethical even if they are to help constituents, he said, "No benefit results to the nation from lobbying individuals."
Supreme Leader's Office Pressures Lawmakers?
Ruydad News website announced that the supreme leader's office had initiated contacts with Majlis representatives. In one instance, General Firouzabadi, chairman of the Armed Forces' Joint Chiefs of Staff, called several lawmakers to his office. The website also quoted one lawmaker who announced that Majlis representatives are contacted and asked to cast a vote of confidence for the entire cabinet, with the logic that such a vote would portray the Ahmadinejad government to be strong and dampen the post-election fallout.
According to this report, a meeting was held last week with Ahmad Jannati, Ahmad Khatami, Mehdi Taeb, Morteza Moghtadaei and several of Ahmadinejad's senior advisors and deputies in attendance, as well as several Majlis representatives including Haddad Adel, Mehdi Kouchakzadeh, Hamid Rasaei, Moa'ed Hosseini-Sadr, Kazem Mousavi, and the heads of two pro-government news agency. The purpose of the meeting was to reach a decision on how to pressure and entice Majlis representatives to cast votes of confidence for all of the proposed cabinet ministers.
At that meting, Majlis representatives were divided into four groups: supportive, supportive but critical, opposing and enemical. Most representatives belonged to either the opponent or supportive but critical camps. Taeb suggested that lobbying groups initially focus their energy on these two groups and seek to secure their vote of confidence for the entire cabinet through promising incentives and grants for their continuents.
While the majority of the Islamic Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commanders were present at the Majlis session on Monday discussing ministers' qualifications, representatives finished reviewing the credentials of eight more nominees. Prior to that, the law makers had reviewed the qualifications of six cabinet nominees, namely those for the ministries of education, communication, intelligence, finance and economy, foreign affairs and trade.
No Opponents Against Ahmad Vahidi
While the qualifications of Ahmad Vahidi, proposed defense minister, were being discussed, no lawmaker was willing to speak as an opponent. Hadi Ghavami had initially signed up to speak as an opponent, according to the state-run IRNA, but sent a note to the Majlis leadership indicating his resignation due to an evil conspiracy orchestrated by Zionists against the proposed defense minister. In fact, Ghavami claimed that he would cast a vote of confidence for the proposed minister in support.
Ahmad Vahidi is subject to an arrest warrant issued by Interpol for his role in a 1994 bomb attack on a Jewish center in Argentina. According to government reports, Majlis representatives supported him during the time allocated to discuss his qualifications by chanting "death to Israel."
Cooperatives Minister's Diploma in Doubt
While speaking on Monday in opposition to cooperatives cabinet nominee Abbassi's, representative Hassan Kamran from Isfahan, questioned the date and nature of Mr. Abbasi's doctoral degree. Kamran added, "Mr. Abbasi's resume claims a doctoral degree in higher education, but the time and name of the university that has issued the degree are not noted. We do not have a doctoral program in higher education, and it is not clear when and from where he received such a degree."
Responding to this claim, Majlis speaker Larijani said, "Mr. President will in his allotted time."
Do Not Vote for the Lying Minister
During his speech in the Majlis, the proposed roads and transportation minister Hamid Behbahani, blamed "international sanctions and problems" for the present problems affecting Iran's aviation industry.
Behbahani, who served as the ninth administration's road and transportation minister also, added that he was seeking to find solutions to the problem of high incidence of aviation accidents in Iran through dialogue with experts in a collegial and non-ideological environment.
Ali Zakani, representative from Tehran, however, dismissed Behbahani's claims about the Iranian aviation industry's problems as lies, adding, "The ninth administration roads and transportation minister's annual progress report is a lie, and his supporters have spoken in his defense based on that report.
Zakani asked the lawmakers not to place the "God's trust" (ministry) in the hands of someone who lies to people's representatives.
Fatemeh Ajorlu is Lying
Lawmakers who spoke in opposition to Fatemeh Ajorlu, cited her lack of experience and expertise in insurance issues. Seyyed Reza Akrami, representative from Tehran, said in his opposition to the proposed welfare minister, "A few days ago, in the presence of other representatives, I asked Mrs. Ajorlu to name a few books if she claims to have completed level 2 seminary school courses. But she refused to answer my question."
He added, "She probably did not correctly state her degree, because one has to study for 8 years to reach that level in a seminary school. Certainly if she knew the names of the books she would have answered the question."
The Majlis representative clarified what he had asked the nominee, adding, "I further asked Mrs. Ajorlu that she was born in 1966, that she was only 14 years old only when the war began and 22 when it ended. I told her that the responsibilities that she claimed to have had in the IRGC did not match her age, and asked her to explain,which she did not."
The Majlis session scheduled for Tuesday would continue the discussion over the qualifications of cabinet ministers proposed by Ahmadinejad.
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