Iran MPs reject Rafsanjani's man

THE Iranian Majlis (parliament) humiliated the President, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, yesterday by rejecting the controversial 'architect' of his economic policy, the US-educated Economy and Finance Minister, Mohsen Nourbakhsh, writes Safa Haeri.

The verdict came after a 10- hour debate on a vote of confidence on the President's new 23-member cabinet, which included six new ministers.

Mr Rafsanjani immediately appointed Mr Nourbakhsh as Vice-President for Economic Affairs, stressing in a decree read on television his 'valuable experience in reforming the economic system and continuity of restructuring policies'.

On presenting the new cabinet to the Majlis, President Rafsanjani had begged the MPs to vote en bloc for his ministers 'for such a vote would be a heavy punch in the mouth of the enemies of Islam and the Islamic republic'.

Ministries at stake were Economy and Finance, Higher Education, Interior, Housing and Trade. All went to conservatives close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme leader. But Mr Rafsanjani had hoped to keep Mr Nourbakhsh and Mohammad Hossein Adeli, the Governor of the Central Bank, both viewed by the conservative mullahs as responsible for the regime's economic problems.