What We Know about President Hassan Rouhani’s Second Administration, So Far
The torso of the twelfth administration is beginning to materialize. On Thursday, the Supreme Leader validated Hassan Rouhani for his second term in office and the president will be inaugurated in the parliament on Saturday, when he will most likely unveil his cabinet. Rouhani's choices so far have failed to satisfy the Reform camp. On the flipside, they are met with silent support from the Principlist camp.
Like many others, prominent Reformist Abdollah Nouri found rumors about the cabinet worrying, in terms of 'deviation' from majority votes. In the meantime, the Principlist have remained silent about the line-up, preferring to maneuver on the Reformists' extortion efforts.
Former hardliner pressure group Ansar-e Hezbollah secretary general Hossein Allahkaram, who is a leading opponent of the Rouhani administration, accused the Reformists of extortion, trying to help the moderate president establish his cabinet. "To seek shares from the cabinet is definitely not to the benefit of the next administration. At the moment, our administration needs national unity," he has been quoted as saying. Nonetheless, the Reformists believe, as Abdollah Nouri has put into words, that Rouhani should not ignore his 24m votes and act in a way that pleases the 16 million who voted for others.
Another line pursued by the Principlists was to open a rift between Rouhani and the Reformists. Jahan News, affiliated with Principlist politician Alireza Zakani, attributed harsh remarks to former president Mohammad Khatami, in which he lambasted sitting president Hassan Rouhani. False quotes denied by Javad Emam, the director-general of Khatami's Baran foundation, who called the remarks the brainchild of illusions fostered by media. Through such media misdemeanors, he said, some hope to open a rift among giants and put Mr. Khatami against Hassan Rouhani. "These people don't see that the convergence among the Reformists and their support for the 11th administration is incomparable to that of Principlists during the 9th and 10th administrations [of Ahmadinejad], alternating between a competition in support and one in denial," Emam added.
The selecting process of administration members did get the spotlight in remarks made by those administration officials still in charge. Administration spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht told his last presser under the 11th administration, that the president was listening to different views about the cabinet but would make the final decision himself. "The ministers list to be proposed is in its final stages. The President is committed to public demands and will invite some of the best individuals to work," Nobakht added.
Speaking about women's appointment as administration members, a vocal demand of Reformist politicians in the recent weeks, he said the administration would not see collaboration as limited to ministries and if no woman is invited as a minister, it should not be viewed as failure to use women's capacity. "Women will continue to play a valuable role in the 12th administration. The president does not believe their abilities and capacities should not be used. It will be an offence to women and the youth, thinking they should only be used as ministers or deputy ministers," he said.
Asked if the president was informed about what administration's advocates mooted on Twitter, Nobakht said the president is smarter than not to notice propaganda and publicity stunts for promote or ruin certain individuals. "He is a courageous person in expressing views and making decision. He will not be carried away, even though he would listen to different views," Nobakht reiterated. Saying the president sees himself accountable for public rather than partisan demands, the spokesman said Rouhani has not forgotten efforts by certain political groups, in support.
Concerns over low-key role for women
Vice President for Women's Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi has made it clear that she would not be continuing to serve in the post. In an interview with IRNA, she said the negotiations were done and that she was waiting to see the final decisions. "We want a maximum participation of women at vice president and directorial levels, not only ministerial ones," she said. According to rumors, she will serve as president's aide in minority affairs. At her present position, she is reportedly to be replaced by Parvin Dadandish, wife of incumbent Telecom Minister Mahmoud Vaezi. However, Dadandish has denied reports in an interview with the Young Journalists Club (YJC), saying there were no talks in this regard. She went on to confirm that Vaezi would almost surely serve as Rouhani's bureau chief in the next administration.
Deputies made ministers
In response to a question regarding candidates for the telecommunications minister position, Mahmoud Vaezi has thanked the president for choosing one of his deputies as the next minister, even though he declined to name any individual, saying it was the president's right to change his mind according to existing requirements. According to Vaezi, the fact that most deputies have been among candidates for the ministerial position indicates that the President knows the work done in the ministry has been of a team-work nature, where a squad of officials worked together. He called the President's unrevealed choice the best sort of gratitude.
Ministers with extended mission
Interior ministry has been among those with which the Reformist are not much satisfied. Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, known close to Majlis influential speaker the conservative Ali Larijani, is about to get an extension. He said on Wednesday that his appointment to the position was for his developmentalist attitude in the first place and an extension by President Rouhani would be for the same reason. "My main concern in the Interior Ministry is to develop the ministry in every area, including political, economic, social and cultural aspects," he added.
Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan has declined to confirm his dismissal but said the next minister would be chosen from within the ministry. "I may or may not be the next minister but a person from within the ministry will be in charge," he said.
During a visit to Semnan, northeast of Iran, Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian implied the end of his ministry on Wednesday when he told reporters there were many who could replace him in the ministry.
* The article above has been retrieved from Etemad newspaper and adopted for publication in English.