Iran Speaker Tells Lawmakers to Watch Tongues in Debate

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani told lawmakers to cool their rhetoric after two days of often heated debate over President Hassan Rohani’s cabinet nominees.

In a private meeting today before the hearing resumed, Larijani scolded lawmakers for finger-pointing and reminded them the debate was being broadcast live. He also asked them to stop repeatedly invoking the name of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Even the official Islamic Republic News Agency chided legislators for creating a spectacle before “the watchful eyes of foreign media” and millions of Iranians.

Rohani has drawn criticism for picking too many people with Western education or links to the anti-government protests that were violently suppressed in 2009. He has defended his choices as able and experienced. Several served under former presidents Mohammad Khatami and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whose support helped him to win the election.

Yesterday’s second day of debate on the nominees dissolved into a free-for-all after a lawmaker denounced the proposed health minister, Hassan Ghazizadh Hashemi, and accused others of endorsing him only because he’s rich. “If he was a poor minister-designate you wouldn’t have backed him,” Nader Ghazipour told the assembly, according to the state-run Mehr news agency. “You’re backing him for his money.”

Apology Required

Some lawmakers rushed to the podium, shouting and trying to silence him, while others tried to calm them. Ghazipour was only allowed to resume his speech after he apologized.

A day earlier, while speaking against another nominee, lawmaker Ali-Mohammad Bozorgvari called one of Rafsanjani’s sons a “thief.”

The public disputes defy Khamenei’s appeal following Rohani’s June election for unity between top Iranian officials and politicians, IRNA said.

“I regret that such programs are aired live on television, damaging parliament’s prestige,” lawmaker Hossein-Ali Shahriari was quoted as saying by Mehr.

Rohani, who was inaugurated last week as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s successor, campaigned to repair Iran’s international relations, hurt by disputes over its nuclear program, and revive the economy. Parliament is due to vote on his cabinet slate tomorrow.

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