Iranian Parliament summons Ahmadinejad for questioning

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran on December 18.

Story highlights

  • Lawmakers say they want to question President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
  • It is the first time the Parliament has succeeded in summoning a president to testify
  • The move comes after a power struggle between Ahmadinejad and Iran's supreme leader

Iranian lawmakers have summoned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to answer questions before Parliament about his management of economic policies and key government ministers.

The move comes after a power struggle between Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei spilled into public view last year. It is the first time since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 that the Parliament has succeeded in summoning a president to testify before it.

The internal political tensions coincide with outside pressure on Iran from the United States and other countries over Tehran's nuclear program.

One of the most sensitive questions lawmakers say they plan to ask concerns Ahmadinejad's failed attempt to fire Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi in April. When Khamenei vetoed the move, Ahmadinejad retreated from the public eye, skipping Cabinet meetings.

Top officials and media outlets close to Khamenei subsequently mounted a campaign of criticism singling out Ahmadinejad.

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Iranian news agencies reported that Ahmadinejad's palace prayer leader, Abbas Amirifar, faced charges of "sorcery" after producing a controversial film. Public criticism also focused on Ahmadinejad's brother-in-law and chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, whom Ahmadinejad appeared to have been grooming as a successor.

The motion to summon Ahmadinejad, read out in Parliament on Tuesday, contained a long list of issues lawmakers want to take up with him, the semi-official Mehr News Agency reported, including "the president's alleged resistance to accept the Supreme Leader's decree to reinstate the intelligence minister."

Other topics include "the dismissal of the former foreign minister while on a diplomatic mission in Senegal," several apparently flawed economic policy efforts and "the president's support for the promotion of the Iranian school of thought instead of the Islamic school of thought," according to Mehr.

Lawmakers say that the answers Ahmadinejad's administration has provided so far have failed to satisfy them.

Article 88 of the Iranian Constitution stipulates that the president must appear before the Parliament within a month of being summoned, unless lawmakers decide to withdraw the motion, according to the state-run Press TV.

Deputy Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar said Tuesday that lawmakers hoped Ahmadinejad would appear by mid-March.

Ahmadinejad has been in office since 2005. He was re-elected in 2009 amid widespread demonstrations by the opposition.

Khamenei backed Ahmadinejad through the tumult that followed the election, including a crackdown on protesters, during which security forces were unleashed on crowds and activists were prosecuted and jailed.

Khamenei, a former president, became the supreme leader of Iran in 1989 after the death of Ayatollah Khomeini.

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