Ahmadinejad to End Intense Year with Parliamentary Showdown

Article Summary
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be questioned by the parliament next week on issues ranging from his economic policies to his alleged affronts to the Islamic nature of the state. Fatima al-Smadi outlines the questions to be asked, and writes that they represent a reaction to Ahmadinejad’s previous attempts to reduce parliamentary power.

The Persian [calendar] year is drawing to an end, setting the stage for Iranian prayers and wishes: "O Transmuter of power and circumstance, change our condition into the best of conditions." [Quote from Iranian Supreme Leader for the New Year]. This year has not been an easy one for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the results of the parliamentary elections do not seem to be paving the way for a better year in Iran. The composition of the Islamic Consultative Assembly has changed, condensing more power into the hands of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution. Many MPs from the eighth Iranian Consultative Assembly [elected in 2008] who were favor of interrogating the President will not be able to after [the recent] elections, either because they were ineligible for re-election (27 MPs) or lost the elections (31 MPs). However, Ahmadinejad will be questioned regardless, and will appear before Parliament next Sunday [sic, Wednesday, March 14]. The new parliament will open two and a half months after the [recently completed] elections. [In May], it will be handed over to new MPs to start the ninth session. Therefore, 58 out of the 79 MPs who signed a petition to question Ahmadinejad will participate in the questioning, even though they will not be a part of the new parliament.

Next week, Ahmadinejad will have to answer 10 questions, each on a politically controversial issue. The first question will be on the financial facilities law, which relates to transportation issues in Tehran and other provinces. The second question will be on the Iranian economic growth rate in 2011, which [was said to have] reached 4.5% while the IMF claimed it to be 3%. As the governments program set out to achieve a growth rate of 8%, [were it to have fallen short] would reflect poorly on those managing it.

The [current] deficit calls into question the [government’s ability] to create the 1,600,000 jobs that Ahmadinejad had promised. The [parliament’s next question] will treat Ahmadinejad's economic policies and the fact that he did not pay out the proper subsidies in support of the agricultural and industrial sectors. The fourth question will consider the showdown that took place over Minister of Intelligence Hojatoleslam Heidar Moslehi’s appointment, and Ahmadinejad's hesitation for 11 days to act on a decision taken by the Supreme Leader. The fifth question will likely be on [Ahmadinejad’s views] on the parliament’s role, and how he has repeatedly tried to diminish its importance.

The sixth question will address the mechanisms put in place for appointing government ministers.  [The fact that it will be asked] suggests an attempt [on the part of Ahmadinejad] to circumvent the law. The seventh question will discuss how and why more than a billion Toman [Approx US $880,000] were channelled towards the promotion of cultural affairs. The parliament's eighth question will be Ahmadinejad’s dismissal of Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki "in an offensive way which tarnished the image of the Islamic Republic" during an official errand outside Iran.

On the social level, Ahmadinejad will have to answer a question related to the implementation of the "Veil and Chastity" law. The parliament will inquire into some of Ahmadinejad’s statements, who criticized the the way the law was being enforced. These statements provoked a storm of criticism from a number of religious authorities and imams. Ahmadinejad re-confirmed his statements on a live TV program, providing the parliament with material to accuse him of offending Islam and the function of the Islamic state: The Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

The list of questions will also include one on Rahim Mashaie, an adviser close to the President, and his proposals regarding the "Iranian school" [of Islam]. The tenth question will be asked in order to voice the parliament’s disapproval of the president's defense of the so-called "deviant current," and his reluctance to announce that he has nothing to do with its members despite the warnings of various religious scholars and the fact that these proposals "undermine the Islamic Revolution and stir national passions, thus contradicting the higher interests of the Islamic nation."

Now that the questions have been made public, it will be difficult for the president to ignore the interrogation or refuse to appear before parliament. While the interrogation will not yield direct results - as it will not entail a vote on these issues - its importance lies in the fact that it will shape the future relationship between the president and the next parliament, as well as his ability to circumvent and ignore decisions [made by this parliament]. Moreover, Ahmadinejad’s answers may lead MPs to prosecute him. In this regard, the results of the recent elections, in which fundamentalists won and Ahmadinejad’s movement was sidelined, further tightened the noose around the president's neck.

The president has been preparing himself for the upcoming interrogation by conducting a preemptive press campaign calling the questioning illegal. He has argued that [MPs] are seeking to take revenge on him for his  statements diminishing the role of parliament in which he claimed it was no longer [the most important actor] in political affairs. In the meantime, a new crisis is looming on the horizon. Media sources close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard have accused Ahmadinejad of seeking to "ignite sedition." [This accusations] surfaced after information was leaked that Ahmadinejad was going to publish a press release exposing theft and embezzlement by MPs and government officials. These sources claim that this was in reaction to the fact that his movement lost the [recent] elections.

Found in: parliamentary interrogation, parliamentary elections, khamenei, islamic state, corruption, ahmadinejad

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using them you accept our use of cookies. Learn more... X