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Iran's President Wins Three Cabinet Picks, Withdraws Fourth --> Legislators hear a speech from President Ahmadinejad today in which he sought support for his cabinet nominees (AFP) 9 November 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The Iranian legislature expressed votes of confidence in three new cabinet members today, further rounding out the new administration of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, state television and Radio Farda reported.

But the session provided some political fireworks as a number of legislators protested Ahmadinejad's failure to appear ahead of the votes to defend his nominees, as is customary.

The president also withdrew his pick for petroleum minister, Sadeq Mahsuli, ahead of expected opposition if the nomination had come up for a vote.

Cooperatives Minister Mohammad Nazemi-Ardakani was approved with 174 of 236 votes in his favor; Education and Training Minister Mahmud Farshidi received 136 of 246 votes; and. Welfare and Social Security Minister Parviz Kazemi secured 178 of 254 votes.

President Ahmadinejad was not in attendance at the start of the session. However, Lahijan representative Iraj Nadimi demanded the president's presence, Fars News Agency reported, before parliamentary speaker Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel responded that the his attendance is not a requirement. Other legislators protested, and Ahmadinejad appeared more than two hours late, according to IRNA.

Ahmadinejad then gave Haddad-Adel a letter from his nominee for petroleum minister, according to state television, in which Mahsuli withdrew his name. Critics had targeted the wealthy Mahsuli, a former Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander, over questions about his wealth and ethics.

Education and Training Minister nominee Farshidi was criticized by legislator Kazem Jalali, state television reported, who said the nominee's only relevant experience is having been the principle of a school. Jalali claimed that Farshidi was ineffective in that role, adding that Farshidi has unrealistic plans and mixes religion and education excessively.

Another legislator, Semnan's Hadi Dust-Mohammadi, called Farshidi's attitudes 20 years out of date. His proposal of clerical involvement in the composition of textbooks is inappropriate, Dust-Mohammadi added.

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