Iran’s govt and parliament clash over minister’s impeachment
TEHRAN, Feb 3: A clash between Iran’s government and parliament spilled out into the open on Sunday over the impeachment of a minister.
A majority of MPs voted in a heated parliament session, broadcast live on state radio, to remove the labour and social welfare minister, Abdolreza Sheikholeslam, for refusing to sack a controversial figure, Saeed Mortazavi.
Mortazavi, seen close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a suspended judge appointed as caretaker of Iran’s wealthy social welfare organisation.
In the lead-up to the vote, Ahmadinejad questioned the impeachment motion and rebuked the parliament for launching attacks against his aides and supporters. “For three years my colleagues at the government have been under the most severe pressure and accusations,” Ahmadinejad said, while defending his aides ahead of the vote.
He then accused parliament speaker Ali Larijani and judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani of nepotism. To back his claim, Ahmadinejad played a recording in which a voice said to be of their brother, Fazel, allegedly attempted to bribe Mortazavi by asking for a favour in exchange for political support of both parliament and the judiciary.
Ali Larijani in response accused Ahmadinejad of violating the law and preventing justice by shielding his inner circle from judicial probes. “You have selected those who have judicial cases (against them) as your allies, and prevent their cases from being investigated,” he said.
He then accused Ahmadinejad of using the video as a ‘threat’ to hamper the impeachment process. —AFP