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Raeisi outlines plans as parliament debates cabinet choices

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi (C) addresses the parliament in Tehran on August 21, 2021, as the legislative body begins debate on his new cabinet picks. (Photo by IRNA)

President Ebrahim Raeisi says he has chosen a cabinet to improve Iran's economy and fight corruption as parliament begins debating whether to approve his proposed ministers.

President Raeisi attended an open session of the parliament on Saturday morning along with his deputy Mohammad Mokhber and his chief of staff Gholam Hossein Esmaeili.

The president started with an outline of his plans for the next cabinet, saying they have been devised to ensure justice and progress in Iran.

"We know that the time for service is short and the pains and problems of the people are numerous," Raeisi said.  

He pointed to efforts aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic as a top priority, saying boosting the country’s economy and improving the livelihood of the people are also high on his agenda.

President Raeisi said his proposed list of ministers constitutes both young and experienced figures, whose main characteristics are commitment to working diligently and fighting corruption.

The president defended the cabinet make-up, saying he had tried to choose the most qualified in various fields.

"The line-up is not based on a specific organization or political party," he said. "Any causal, relative and family relationship or pressure from any individual, current or party has absolutely had no role in the nomination and selection of ministers."   

Raeisi has said his plan is to form a "popular government". Its roadmap for transforming Iran, he said on Saturday, is to push for the "excellence of the Islamic and Iranian culture", develop a "resistance economy", improve the livelihood of the people especially low-income groups, develop international relations based on national interests, and promote Iran's inspirational role in the Islamic world.     

The resistance economy is a concept proposed by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei in 2016 to leverage domestic capabilities in order to overcome gaps resulting from US policies to restrict business with Iran and insulate the economy from sanctions or hostile foreign activity.

The president noted that short- and mid-term plans have been formulated to tackle the country’s problems.

"You are well aware of the situation," he told the parliament. "Solving the problems of inflation above 44% declared by the Statistical Center or more than 55% of the Central Bank, a sharp devaluation of the national currency, a significant budget deficit, severe power shortages and hardships, high liquidity growth, high government debt and other issues is possible, but it requires a plan. It also needs an efficient force that can be transformative in any part of the country."

President Raeisi described Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, his pick for foreign minister, as a person with sound knowledge and expertise in his major.

“Balanced foreign policy, development of neighborly relations, prioritization of economy in foreign interactions and activation of economic diplomacy will be high on the Foreign Ministry’s agenda,” he said.

Raeisi went on to defend his choice for Iranian defense minister, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, saying he is a prominent figure among members of Iran’s Armed forces and very well-informed of military affairs.

Iranian legislators started debating the ministerial picks in an alphabetical order. One supporter and one opponent of each nominee gave a speech.

Addressing the session, MP Karim Hosseini said Iran is definitely at a critical juncture, and a high vote for President Raeisi’s cabinet signifies the Islamic Republic’s power, and the authority of the establishment.

“The new administration is expected to address the concerns of the nation, especially those that have been expressed in recent years by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah (Seyyed Ali Khamenei) and the country’s sympathizers,” he said.

On August 13, Raeisi submitted the list of his proposed ministers to the parliament to receive a vote of confidence.

The president will have up to three months to name a replacement in case any of the proposed ministers fails to win the vote.

The formal sessions on the vote of confidence for the ministerial picks will reportedly continue for four days.

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