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Iran's Rouhani appoints new economy minister in reshuffle

Hassan Rouhani
FILE PHOTO: Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a news conference on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid/File Photo

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appointed academic Farhad Dejpasand as the new economy and finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle on Sunday, state television reported, according to Reuters.

The proposed cabinet changes come as the government faces intense pressure over the economic instability mostly caused by U.S. sanctions. The economy has markedly deteriorated in the past year, suffering rising inflation and unemployment, a slump in the rial currency and state corruption.

Rouhani also appointed a new urban development and roads minister, an industry, mines, and trade minister, and a new labor minister.

Mohammad Shariatmadari, the outgoing industries minister, has been nominated to head the Labour, Cooperatives and Social Affairs Ministry.

Mohammad Eslami was named to head the Urban Development and Roads Ministry, and Reza Rahmani, who has earlier headed the parliament’s commission on mining and industry, was named as the new industry, mines, and trade minister.

Dejpasand, the proposed economy minister, has also worked as deputy head of the state Plan and Budget Organization, among other postings.

Washington reintroduced sanctions against Iran’s currency trade, metals and auto sectors in August after the U.S. withdrawal from a multinational 2015 deal that lifted sanctions in return for limits on Iran’s nuclear program. U.S. curbs on Iran’s vital oil exports are set to come into force in November.

Earlier this year, anger over the government’s handling of the economy erupted into public protests across Iran. Some turned violent and at least 25 people were killed. Hundreds were arrested but officials say most have been released.

The International Monetary Fund predicts that Iran’s economy would shrink 1.5 percent this year following the reimposition of U.S. sanctions with a drop of 3.6 percent seen in 2019, before recovering slowly.

State media said parliament was expected to discuss the nominations and vote on the new proposed ministers on Saturday.

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