Ali Nikzad

Iran’s Parliament has given its vote of confidence to Ali Nikzad to lead the newly formed Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was not in attendance as 205 MPs voted to endorse his proposed candidate, and no MPs lodged any formal criticism of the appointment.

The position of Minister of Roads and Urban Development was recently created through the merger of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the Ministry of Transportation.

Nikzad, who oversaw the former housing ministry, reportedly answered some MPs’ questions in advance of Parliament’s vote, when he attended a council meeting of the Principalists, Parliament’s conservative faction.

Last week, Parliament rejected Ahmadinejad’s proposed minister for the newly formed Ministry of Sports and Youth. Hamid Sajjadi’s appointment was voted down by 137 MPs.

Ahmadinejad had urged MPs to get beyond their disputes with the president’s office and support Sajjadi, who in addition to being a champion athlete holds degrees in sports administration and has experience as a senior administrator at the Physical Education Organization.

Sajjadi’s rejection appears to have been prompted by a critical letter that Ahmadinejad read out while introducing his ministerial candidate. In that letter, Ahmadinejad expressed his profound reservations about the usefulness of the new Ministry of Sports and Youth, saying he still believed that its creation would be detrimental to Iran’s sports community and its performance.

The Ahmadinejad administration has faced numerous disputes with Parliament in recent months and, in most instances, has been forced to bend to Parliament’s will.