Saturday, December 03, 2005

Iran's President expected to name new minister

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected early next week to make another attempt at getting a candidate for oil minister through parliament after three others were slammed for lack of experience, reports said.

Iran's Government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham was quoted as saying he hoped deputies in the conservative-controlled Majlis would show "cooperation" this time around, but did not reveal who the new contender was, AFP reported.

Four names have been cited as possible nominees, and at face value they appear to be stronger candidates than Ahmadinejad's three previous choices. READ MORE

One is Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh, who was appointed as the ministry's caretaker on August 29 when deputies rejected Ahmadinejad's first choice.

The president's second nominee was withdrawn ahead of a vote, while the third was rejected last week.

Vice president and head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, has also been cited in the press as a potential nominee. He held the oil ministry post from 1985 to 1997.

State oil industry official Ali Beheshtian and MP Hassan Moradi, a member of the parliament's energy commission, are the other possible candidates, reports said.

Deputies have acknowledged the dispute over the post has been damaging to investor confidence as well as the Iran's standing within OPEC, where it is the number-two producer.

But they have stood firm in their unwillingness to approve nominees seen as being cronies of the president and not up to the task of managing the nation's oil sector. A constitutional deadline to fill the crucial post expired a week ago, but the consequences of this are vague, so officials have been pressing Ahmadinejad to come up with a quick solution.

Iran, estimated to hold 12 percent of world oil reserves, currently produces 4.2 million barrels per day, or 5.2 percent of global production. Oil accounts for 80 percent of the country's export revenues.