Reuters: Iran’s parliament has summoned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for questioning, the semi-official Mehr news agency said on Monday, raising tensions in a power struggle between rival hardline factions.
TEHRAN, June 27 (Reuters) – Iran’s parliament has summoned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for questioning, the semi-official Mehr news agency said on Monday, raising tensions in a power struggle between rival hardline factions.
Lawmakers have long accused Ahmadinejad of ignoring their demands and criticism has increased in recent weeks since Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blocked him from sacking his intelligence minister — which analysts said showed Ahmadinejad could no longer count on the complete support of Iran’s top authority.
Unless the conservative-dominated parliament withdraws the summons, Ahmadinejad must appear before the assembly within one month after 100 lawmakers signed a motion calling him in, Mehr said. He will face questions over his delay in nominating a sports minister and in granting parliament-approved funding to the Tehran Metro.
Both issues are the subject of long-running tussles between the president and lawmakers, and some members of parliament have suggested impeaching Ahmadinejad over what his critics in the house have called his “demagogic” manner.
Rifts within the conservatives have become more apparent since the opposition Green movement was effectively silenced by the state after huge street protests against Ahmadinejad’s contested re-election two years ago.
With the protests crushed and the Green movement’s leaders under house arrest, parliamentary elections scheduled for next year will be largely fought by conservatives of various shades. Analysts say the current factional wrangling is largely a jockeying for position before then.
Mohammad Dehqan, a member of parliament’s presiding board, said it was possible that the summons would be rescinded. “Considering the situation of the country, the majority of presiding board members do not consider questioning the president to be expedient,” he said.
Parliament has often used its constitutional powers against Ahmadinejad, particularly over ministerial appointments and budgetary matters, and most recently rejected his nominee to head the newly formed Youth and Sport Ministry.
It also forced the resignation of another Ahmadinejad appointee, Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, who had been made deputy foreign minister. Lawmakers threatened to impeach Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi over the appointment.
Malekzadeh was arrested two days later, in another blow to Ahmadinejad’s inner circle.
Ahmadinejad’s opponents were emboldened by Khamenei’s intervention in April to stop the president sacking Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi. The attempted sacking was seen by Ahmadinejad’s critics as a political manoeuvre before next year’s elections.
Some lawmakers argued that Ahmadinejad’s allies wanted control of the intelligence ministry to secure a majority in 2012, since the ministry is in charge of checking the background of potential candidates.
Far from toning down his policies after the Moslehi set-back, Ahmadinejad sacked several other ministers, including the head of the Oil Ministry — the body in charge of exploiting Iran’s vast mineral reserves — in what he said was merely the execution of a previously announced government streamlining.
Parliament voted against the merger of the Oil and Energy Ministries last week.
The semi-official Fars news agency said on Monday that the government had withdrawn the ministerial merger plan — which had aimed to reduce the number of ministries to 17 from 21 — to review it. (Writing by Robin Pomeroy; editing by David Stamp)