TEHRAN, 13 Apr. (IPS) With the life of the present Majles (Iranian Parliament) approaching fast, the most urgent question facing the embattled President Mohammad Khatami is the fate of his government, now that the conservatives have taken back the control of the Majles.
After weeks of silence, the official spokesman of government Mr. Abdollah Ramezanzadeh hinted that though the question of reshuffling the cabinet has not yet been discussed at the latest meetings of the government,, but some ministers have brought the issue forward, offering their resignation.
According to political analysts, the conservatives, in order to put the last nail on Khatami and reformist’s coffin, are pushing the badly lamed President to reshuffle the government by ejecting some ministers, replacing them with others more in line with the changes.
"While there is no doubt that Khatami must reshuffle his cabinet, but it all depends on the ministers who would resign or be pushed out", said Mr. Mas’ood Behnood, an Ifranian journalist based in London, adding however that key, strategic posts like those of Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oil would depend to the leader, not the president.
In the corridors of the presidency as well as in the office of the leader, the names of the ministers one hears most who have either tendered their resignation or the conservatives would like to see them say good bye are those of Hojjatoleslam Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari, the Interior Minister, followed by Morteza Haji, Ahmad Khorram and Tahmasb Mazaheri, respectively ministers of National Education, Transport and Economy and Finances.
Mr. Moosavi-Lari, the government’s strongest minister, was at the first line during the electoral battle of last months prior to the 20 February elections, opposing vigorously the Council of the Guardians disqualification of hundreds of reformist candidates and urging for delaying the date of the elections until the raw between the leader-controlled Guardians and the Government are settled.
"While there is no doubt that Khatami must reshuffle his cabinet, but it all depends on the ministers who would resign or be pushed out", said Mr. Mas’ood Behnood
Analysts say though changes in the cabinet are "inevitable", but no matter who enters, the move would further weaken the President, already discredited with the voters, as seen from the elections.
Discussing the reshuffling, Mr. Raezanzadeh, also expected to leave the Government, said some ministers have told privately Mr. Khatami about their desire to quit him, either on the ground of "incompatibility" with the hard liners or the fact that they would have no time to enforce any project during the short lap of time before the end of Khatami’s mandate due next year.
"As for the President, he would continue in the office, acting more like as an obedient prime minister to the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i", a political pundit told Iran Press Service on condition of anonymity. ENDS KHATAMI CABINET 14404