Iran assembly approves most of hard-line Cabinet

Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament approved most of President Mahmoud Ahamedinejad’s choices for key Cabinet posts today, including endorsing the defence minister nominee who is wanted by Argentina for a deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural centre.

The broad mandate from lawmakers was a boost for the embattled president and considered a vote of confidence for his crackdowns on political opponents and tough stance against Western pressure for talks on the nation’s nuclear programme.

President Ahmadinejad has faced questions about the experience and expertise of some choices for his 21-seat Cabinet, but managed to win approval for many key posts that included the foreign, interior, intelligence ministries and Ahmad Vahidi as defence minister.

The parliament also backed Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi as health minister, making her the Islamic Republic’s first female minister since the 1979 Islamic Revolution

It was not a clean sweep, though, for President Ahmadinejad as he faces increasing internal dissent following his disputed re-election victory in June.

Lawmakers rejected three nominees: the important energy ministry post and two women proposed for the welfare and social security ministries.

The new defence minister Mr Vahidi gained support earlier this week when politicians said they would not bow to foreign pressures to reject him.

He is wanted over charges of involvement in the bombing of the Jewish centre in Buenos Aires that left 85 people dead.

He is one of five prominent Iranians sought by Argentina in the bombing. He was the commander of a special unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard known as the Quds Force at the time of the attack.

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