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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Women missing from Iran cabinet for Rouhani's second term

The president's reformist allies have criticised the lack of female representation

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani extends his hand to Iran's judiciary chief, Sadegh Larijani, during the swearing-in ceremony for his second term at the parliament in Tehran on August 5, 2017. Nazanin Tabatabaee Yazdi / Tima via Reuters
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani extends his hand to Iran's judiciary chief, Sadegh Larijani, during the swearing-in ceremony for his second term at the parliament in Tehran on August 5, 2017. Nazanin Tabatabaee Yazdi / Tima via Reuters

AFPIranian president Hassan Rouhani put forward a new cabinet line-up on Tuesday that again included no women, despite criticism of their absence from his reformist allies.

There were no major changes to Mr Rouhani's government, which is expected to continue his push for greater foreign investment and a technocratic approach to reviving the country's stagnant economy.

He 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 Guard.

The deputy economy minister, Masoud Karbasian, also replaced his boss, Ali Tayebnia.

Key names in Iran's efforts to rebuild ties with the West, including foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, retained their positions.

All 18 cabinet members must be approved by parliament over the coming week.

Mr Rouhani's reformist allies have already criticised the president after news leaked that he would again fail to appoint any women to the cabinet — seen as a capitulation to religious leaders.

"The lack of women ministers shows we are treading water," Shahindokht Mowlaverdi, Mr Rouhani's outgoing vice president for women's affairs, told the reformist Etemad daily newspaper on Monday.

Ms Mowlaverdi was one of three women among Mr Rouhani's large cohort of vice presidents during his first term. Vice presidents do not require parliamentary approval.

The 68-year-old president is a moderate cleric, who won a sizeable election victory over hardliner Ebrahim Raisi in May, thanks largely to the support of reformists, who have felt ignored in the selection process for the new government.

Ironically, the sole female minister since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution came under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr Rouhani's hardline predecessor, whose health minister Marzieh Dastjerdi served between 2009 and 2013.

With no official parties in parliament, Mr Rouhani must co-ordinate among a shifting pattern of political factions, none of which holds a definitive majority of the 290 seats.

He is known to have co-ordinated closely on his appointments with other power-brokers, including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guard and the judiciary.