Majlis approves Rouhani’s ministers, except one
President Hassan Rouhani’s new ministers have won the Iranian parliament’s vote of confidence, except the pick for the energy portfolio who had already served in the post under a reformist administration.
Habibollah Bitaraf did not make it to the cabinet on Sunday, with 133 votes cast in his favor, 132 votes against him and 17 abstentions.
Rouhani addressed the parliament before the voting, saying that the top foreign policy priority for his new government was to protect the nuclear deal from being torn up by the United States.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who has come under criticism from some politicians over the nuclear agreement, had a convenient pass with 236 votes. Only 26 lawmakers opposed him, while 26 others abstained.
“The most important job of our foreign minister is first to stand behind the JCPOA, and not to allow the US and other enemies to succeed,” Rouhani said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“Standing up for the JCPOA means standing up to Iran’s enemies,” he added.
Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh, who faced criticism from some lawmakers, also kept his post with a clear margin of 230-35 votes and 23 abstentions.
Rouhani’s choice for Ministry of Road and Urban Development, Abbas Akhundi, also received enough votes to keep his post despite opposition voiced by a number of lawmakers.
The new minister of defense, Brigadier General Amir Hatami, received the highest number of votes, with 261 MPs supporting him. Only 10 lawmakers voted against him while 13 others abstained.
The president has to appoint a caretaker for the Energy Ministry, and has three months to name a new minister. For the science, research and technology portfolio, Rouhani has not nominated a minister either.
Rouhani won re-election back in May. He took the oath of office earlier this month after being formally endorsed as the Iranian chief executive by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.