As Iran continued its struggle to regain control over its plummeting national
currency on Tuesday, Iranian lawmakers said they would not back down from a
motion calling for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be questioned over the
country’s economic crisis.
According to a Tuesday report by Iran’s Aftab
News, which is linked to former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, a total of 94
Iranian MPs have now signed the motion.
Under Iran’s constitution, a
minimum of 74 signatures from MPs are required to call the president in for
MP Mohammad Damadi, one of the sponsors of the
motion, said that MPs intend to pass their proposals on to the Parliamentary
Board next Sunday.
Damadi said that the questions would center on Iran’s
economy and recent fluctuations in its currency markets.
Haghighatpour, deputy head of parliament’s foreign policy and national security
committee, said the questioning of Ahmadinejad would move forward unless Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei opposes it, according to a report by the Iranian
Labor News Agency.
Hagighatpour also said that the effects of the
exchange rate fluctuations had impacted Iran’s internal
“Ahmadinejad should be questioned about more than just
economics,” he added.
Questioning the president would be one way to
understand the causes of the currency crisis, Haghighatpour said, according to
Ahmadinejad’s term of office expires in 2013, after which he cannot
run for president again.
Despite his rhetoric abroad, Ahmadinejad is
increasingly unpopular at home – during last week’s protests in Tehran against
the plummeting rial, Iranians shouted anti-Ahmadinejad slogans, blaming his
economic mismanagement for the crisis – and as pressure increases, some analysts
are questioning whether he will manage to survive his final months in
According to US-based analysts The Soufan Group, although
Ahmadinejad offered to resign last week during a Tehran press conference in
which he lashed out at Iran’s lawmakers, judiciary and the Iranian Revolutionary
Guard Corps, it is unlikely that Khamenei would accept his
“Ahmadinejad’s continuation as president allows public anger
over the currency collapse to center on him rather than the supreme leader. This
is despite the fact that it is Khamenei’s suspicions of a nuclear compromise
that has led to the significant tightening of international sanctions, which, in
turn, caused the rial’s collapse,” The Soufan Group said.
turmoil continued on Tuesday, with the market exchange rate for the rial
conspicuously absent from the country’s two main currency websites.
Mazanex and Mesghal blanked out exchange rates for the rial against the dollar
and other foreign currencies including the British pound and the
Although market rates for old gold coins were also missing from
currency sites, reformist news sites reported soaring gold prices. According to
Aftab News, gold coins were trading at 16 million rials on Tuesday morning, a
significant increase from the rate of 11m. rials over the weekend.
on Tuesday, opposition website Kaleme claimed that a confidential report by
Iran’s economic commission had warned that the country will run out of foreign
currency reserves within the next six months, and that the exchange rate could
spiral to over 67,000 rials to the dollar. On Tuesday, the free market rate hit
an alltime low of over 35,500 rials to the dollar.
Kaleme’s report comes
after a group of Iranian lawmakers asked the central bank last month to
intervene in the currency market to support the rial, while Economy Minister
Shamseddin Hosseini said Iran had enough foreign currency reserves to overcome
However, Kaleme said the confidential report admitted that
Iran’s foreign currency rates were insufficient.
According to Kaleme, the
confidential report also warned of a risk of hunger riots, especially in the
peripheral areas of large cities across the country, which it said could pose a
threat to the regime.
Last week’s protests in Tehran could be the first
in a series of riots that could spread to the poorer sectors of society, Kaleme
Iran’s currency crash comes amidst the effects of increasingly
tough EU and US sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors, which have
significantly reduced income from the country’s oil-dominated industry and made
it difficult for Iran to repatriate oil revenues.