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Iran

Iran's Rouhani faces backlash for cabinet picks

The list includes no women, minorities, or ministers under age 35. Rouhani was also under fire for his justice minister pick, who has been sanctioned by the EU for human rights abuses.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani drew criticism from activists and reformist allies on Tuesday after he unveiled his proposed list of cabinet ministers. The line-up includes no women, no minorities and no young people.

Indeed, even with the inclusion of 35-year-old telecoms chief Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, the average age of the cabinet stood at 58.

"The lack of women ministers shows we are treading water," said Shahindokht Mowlaverdi, outgoing vice president for women's affairs. Mowlaverdi was one of only three women to serve under Rouhani in his first term, amongst a large cohort of vice presidents - a position that does not require parliamentary consent.

On social media, many Iranians were outraged over what they perceived as broken campaign promises. Rouhani sailed easily into re-election in May partly because he was able to secure the support of reformists on promises of greater diversity in the government.

"How can you speak of equality of the entire nation and ignore women and religious minorities?" Mohammad Karroubi, son of jailed opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi, wrote on Twitter.

Defense ministry ditches Islamic Revolutionary Guard

The list, which now goes to parliament for approval, kept most of the major players from Rouhani's first cabinet in place. This included Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who was the lead negotiator for Tehran in 2015's landmark nuclear deal with Western powers.

Rouhani has proposed one major shake-up, however - in the defense ministry. By replacing Major General Hossein Dehghan with his deputy, General Amir Hatami, the ministry will be controlled by a member of the regular Iranian military for the first time in 25 years.

Up until now, the post has largely be controlled by members of the elite Revolutionary Guards. On top of normal military duties, the organization is also tasked with protecting the country's Islamic system, as well as preventing "deviant movements" or foreign powers from wielding undue influence in Iran.

Another switch-up that is likely to prove controversial for very different reasons was Rouhani's pick for minister of justice, Alireza Avaee. Avaee is currently on a list of Iranian officials sanctioned by the European Union.

The EU placed Avaee on the list over allegations of human rights abuses and denial of prisoners' rights while he was head of the Tehran judiciary from 2005 to 2015.

es/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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