Iran parliament calls for interrogating Ahmadinejad

Iranian president has 1 month to address 2nd summons of year, as lawmakers seek answers on mismanagement of economy.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (black background) 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (black background) 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)
Iran’s parliament heard a motion on Sunday calling for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be summoned for questioning over the country’s deteriorating economic situation.
According to Iranian media reports, a group of 77 lawmakers signed the motion, three more than the minimum required under the Iranian constitution.
Lawmakers want to question Ahmadinejad on two issues: his alleged mismanagement of the economy and the resultant currency crash, and accusations that the government allowed the import of luxury goods, according to Mashregh News, which is closely affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Ahmadinejad will now have a month to address the summons.
The motion, read during Sunday’s parliamentary open session, accused Ahmadinejad of failing to address the foreign exchange fluctuations that had led to a sharp depreciation of Iran’s national currency.
Over the past year, the Iranian rial has plummeted dramatically in value against the dollar and other hard currencies.
Iran’s economic woes have heightened rifts within the country’s political factions, with Iranian lawmakers blaming Ahmadinejad as much as Western sanctions for the currency crash.
The accusations regarding unauthorized imports come after the parliament’s industry committee vowed last month to investigate allegations that 750 luxury cars were imported illegally using US dollars bought at a special government rate intended only for vital goods like medicines and food.
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The renewed call for Ahmadinejad to be interrogated is the result of renewed efforts by lawmakers after a petition signed by 102 MPs last month was blocked.
If this new move goes ahead it will mean that Ahmadinejad must face his second interrogation this year.
In an unprecedented move in March, lawmakers subjected the president to an hour-long interrogation over his cabinet appointments, his economic policies and his increasingly fraught relationship with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Khamenei’s relationship with his former protege Ahmadinejad soured in March after the president tried to fire Intelligence Ministry chief Heydar Moslehi, whose dismissal Khamenei immediately overturned.
The parliamentary motion to interrogate Ahmadinejad comes after the president bowed to Khamenei’s authority after the president’s very public spat with the head of Iran’s judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, who refused Ahmadinejad permission to visit his media adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. In a harsh warning last week, Khamenei said politicians’ infighting was tantamount to treason.
In a letter written to Khamenei and posted on the president’s official website Ahmadinejad vowed to obey the supreme leader’s orders not to air “domestic quarrels” in public.
However, in a dig at Sadegh Larijani, Ahmadinejad pointed out that his rank of president was “the highest official rank after the supreme leader.”
Sadegh and his brother, parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, are two of the president’s leading conservative opponents.
Last week the brothers both wrote to Khamenei to say they would comply with the supreme leader’s order that senior government officials must not argue publicly ahead of the 2013 presidential election.