Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took the oath of office before parliament in Tehran on Sunday and was expected later in the day to name a cabinet he said would be chosen from figures across the political spectrum.
“In the presence of the holy Koran and before the nation, I swear to the omnipotent God to safeguard the official religion of the country and the Islamic Republic as well as the country’s constitution,” he told parliament and foreign dignitaries in a ceremony broadcast live on state television.
Rouhani, elected with a wide margin over conservative rivals in elections in June, has pledged to pursue less confrontational policies abroad in order to ease international sanctions on Iran’s economy over its disputed nuclear program.
But Rouhani is very much an insider in the Islamic Republic, having served in senior military and security roles since shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
As well as pressure from the West, Rouhani faces the huge task of trying to fix an economy damaged by sanctions and the profligacy of the previous government.
He also has to try to balance the demands of hardliners who dominate parliament and the officially sidelined reformists whose support helped him win the election.
Update : Rouhani nominates cabinet
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani today revealed a cabinet lineup of experienced technocrats, aiming to deliver on his promise of saving the economy and engaging the world.
Rouhani presented the list after being sworn in before parliament as Iran’s seventh president, even though officially he had two weeks before having to nominate his ministers.
The conservative-dominated parliament has 10 days to review the nominations, but media reports say MPs are keen to start voting within a week or less.
The political breadth of Rouhani’s cabinet was seen as a testament to his priorities.
He has listed these as rescuing the ailing economy crumbling under harsh international sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, and engaging in constructive dialogue with the world.
Among the key nominees are veteran retired diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif, tapped for the foreign ministry, and former oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh for the same portfolio.
Zarif, with a PhD in international law and policy from the University of Denver, was Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations from 2002 to 2007.
He was also a member of the Islamic republic’s nuclear negotiating team from 2003 to 2005, when Rouhani himself was chief nuclear negotiator.
Zarif’s reported nomination is attracting attention, with speculation rife in the media that Rouhani wants to transfer responsibility for nuclear negotiations with the so-called P5+1 group — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany — to the foreign ministry.
Zanganeh, a technocrat who was oil minister for eight years under former president Mohammad Khatami, is highly regarded in Iran for developing good ties with its partners in the OPEC oil cartel and building up the energy sector.
Zanganeh is also seen as a reformist ally of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
But along with Zarif, he is attracting some reserved criticism from hardliners in the parliament, according to media reports.
Rouhani today repeated his promise of undoing the damage done by his firebrand predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“We will initiate the path (of the government) with detente, creating mutual trust and constructive interaction. I say this frankly that Iran has never had been bent on war with the world.”
His first staff appointment came this morning, the nomination of Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Mohammad Nahavandian as chief of staff.
Nahavandian holds a doctorate in economics from George Washington University and has a US Green Card.
He is expected to play a leading role in coordinating and implementing the new president’s economic policies. — AFP