updated 8/30/2009 8:18:33 AM ET 2009-08-30T12:18:33

Iran's president defended his proposed Cabinet ministers Sunday against accusations by lawmakers that they don't have the necessary qualifications and are simply unquestioning loyalists.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's appearance before parliament marked the beginning of what is expected to be a contentious confirmation process for the 21 Cabinet nominees that is scheduled to end with a vote on Tuesday.

Ahmadinejad is forming his new government while still under attack by the pro-reform opposition which claims his re-election in June was fraudulent. But he is also under pressure from fellow conservatives, who have long lambasted the president for hoarding power by putting close associates in key posts.

Reformist lawmakers led the attack Sunday, criticizing the background of many of Ahmadinejad's Cabinet picks and also the president's lack of a detailed plan to improve the country's beleaguered economy. Many such policy debates have been sidelined during the post-election turmoil.

"The majority of the nominees do not have the relevant education and experience," said lawmaker Sadollah Nasiri during the session, which was broadcast live on state radio.

'Generalities and slogans'
One of his reformist colleagues, Ali Asghar Yousefnejad, questioned how Ahmadinejad and his team would revive Iran's economy, which suffers from high rates of inflation and unemployment, saying the president offered only "generalities and slogans."

"What we need are practical solutions for growth and investment, housing problems, inflation and unemployment," said Yousefnejad.

Both conservatives and reformists have criticized Ahmadinejad's management of the economy, which was one of the key issues during the recent presidential election. Yousefnejad's criticism served as a reminder of the challenges facing the president even if he is able to overcome the increasingly bitter conflict over his re-election and the violent crackdown against protesters that followed.

Given the importance of Iran's petroleum sector to the country's economy, lawmakers focused on the president's proposed oil minister, Massed Mirkazemi, as one nominee who they argued lacks the necessary experience for the job.

Prominent conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari said that Mirkazaemi, who currently serves as commerce minister, would be inadequate because he would be trying to learn the necessary skills on the job.

"Such inexperience ministers would need at least one year's time to be settled in their posts," said Motahari, who also criticized the president's picks for the energy and interior ministries.

Ahmadinejad defended Mirkazemi, calling him a "brave combatant" who would be able to manage the oil sector, which produces more than 80 percent of Iran's foreign revenue.

But Motahari said Ahmadinejad had appointed inexperienced loyalists in an attempt to "rule the ministries."

More on: Iran

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