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Iran Hardliners Accused Of Spreading Rumors About Rouhani's Resignation

Iranian President Hassan Rohani (C) attends an event marking government achievements in rural areas, in the capital Tehran, August 26, 2019
Iranian President Hassan Rohani (C) attends an event marking government achievements in rural areas, in the capital Tehran, August 26, 2019

Officials close to President Hassan Rouhani have accused ultraconservative members of the Iranian Parliament of spreading rumors about Rouhani's resignation, Ebtekar newspaper has revealed.

Lawmakers close to Paydari (Steadfastness) front have called for the Rouhani administration's impeachment.

Meanwhile Fararu news website has quoted reformist analyst Sadeq Zibakalam as having said that ultraconservative groups including Paydari are likely to win the next Parliamentary elections.

The latest moves by conservatives to unseat Rouhani or undermine his authority through impeachment of his interior and oil ministers was prevented only by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's intervention. Khamenei told the Parliament to stop the impeachment motions that had already been tabled, as the country needed to remain calm ahead of the upcoming elections.

Without Khamenei's intervention the impeachments would have almost certainly unseated the two ministers because of their questionable performance that played an instrumental part in November protests following a gasoline price hike.

The commentary in Ebtekar says "a radical conservative group has been harshly criticizing Rouhani from the start of his term of office as President while opposing every decision made by his administration."

The daily however admits Rouhani's weaknesses "in some areas," adding that "Rouhani has not been able to meet the promises he has made" during his campaign. However, the paper insists that radical conservatives are taking advantage of Rouhani's failure for factional political gain.

Rouhani's poor performance before, during and after the November protests put him in his weakest position vis-a-vis his political rivals who appear to be even more adamant to take advantage of his declining popularity.

Even some of the reformists who supported Rouhani in the Presidential elections in 2013 and 2017 have also called for his resignation, though for different reasons.

Now, the Paydari Front members who have used all their might during these years against the administration, have recently claimed that Hassan Rouhani has threatened members of the Parliament with his resignation.

Iranian media reports have quoted Vice-President Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, who also chairs the Planning and Budget Organization, as having said that Rouhani would resign his post if the Majles committee in charge of reviewing the budget bill does not approve Rouhani's proposal.

Hardline MP Nasrollah Pejmanfar said in an interview on December 26 that Nobakht has threatened members of Parliament during a meeting with the Budget Allocation Committee that the President will resign if the Majles does not approve the budget bill.

Nobakht reacted to Pejmanfar's remarks three days later, on 29 December calling it "a lie and insult to committee members". Nobakht further accused conservatives of doing President Donald Trump's work for him.

Rouhani administration spokesman Ali Rabiei also denied the rumor on December 16 and said: “The resignation of the president and the government has in no way been suggested and has no proponents”.

Meanwhile, Majles Presidium member Mohammad Ali Vakili sad the rumor is being spread because a certain political group benefits from it. "These are opportunists who benefit from disappointing people and creating controversies. They are not afraid of making wrong remarks. They want to impose their ideas on others," Vakili added.

Ebtekar's commentary reminded Paydari and other ultraconservatives that they can impeach Rouhani once they win the next Majles anyway. The daily attributed some of these moves to the fact that opportunists, even those who previously supported Rouhani, try to distance themselves from the administration during its last months in office to evade responsibility for its failures. Interestingly, "this has happened under Ahmadinejad, and it is happening again in the Rouhani administration," said the commentary.