In the latest sign suggesting that Ahmadinejad’s political power depends on Khamenei’s backing, AFP is reporting that a senior conservative MP has said the Cabinet’s approval depended on Khamenei’s support. From AFP:
TEHRAN — Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged MPs to approve President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s cabinet, a senior lawmaker said on Friday, the latest sign of his full backing for the hardliner.
The ISNA news agency quoted Deputy Spearker Mohammad Reza Bahonar as saying that if Khamenei had not backed the proposed line-up, eight or nine nominees would have been rejected in Thursday’s confidence vote rather than only three.
“The message of the leader played a big role,” Bahonar said.
The conservative-dominated parliament approved 18 of 21 nominees for the cabinet, rejecting two of three women proposed and the would-be energy minister.
“If we had not received the leader’s recommendations, probably eight or nine ministers would have failed to win the vote of confidence, and that would not have been a good start for the government,” said Bahonar, a well-known critic of the president.
“If we had not received the message of the leader, the ministers of oil, industry, commerce, cooperatives, transport and foreign affairs would have been rejected,” Bahonar added.
He said Khamenei’s “vision” prevented this from happening and “changed the view” of parliament.
Mohammad Reza Bahonar is Secretary-General of the Islamic Society of Engineers, a lynchpin of Iran’s conservative establishment.
Bahonar generally supported Ahmadinejad from 2005 until earlier this summer, when Ahmadinejad tried to appoint a loyal politician who favored relations with Israel to be his Vice President. The Supreme Leader overruled the appointment and now Rahim Mashaie is Ahmadinejad’s Chief of Staff.
Ahmadinejad is a member of the Engineers, but the party is generally closer to pragmatic conservatives like Ali Larijani.