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Iran Lawmakers Appoint Controversial Ahmadinejad Ally To Head Court Of Audit

Mehrdad Bazrpash, the Head of Supreme Audit Court of Iran
Mehrdad Bazrpash, the Head of Supreme Audit Court of Iran

Iran's Parliament on Wednesday elected a controversial politician known as an associate of the former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the new head of its supervisory arm, the Supreme Court of Audit.

Mehrdad Bazrpash who is a former Basij militia leader, lawmaker and vice president in the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected with 158 of the total 244 votes cast on Wednesday's open session of the hardliner-dominated Parliament.

Several influential politicians and critics of the Principlist camp, as some hardliners are known, had strongly objected to Bazrpash's nomination to the post.

In a letter to the Parliament Speaker Mohamad Baqer Qalibaf the anti-corruption former lawmaker Ahmad Tavakoli, urged the Parliament to reconsider the nomination of Bazrpash. Tavakoli said Bazrpash lacked sufficient experience and related education to head the Court of Audit.

Tavakoli, himself a Principlist, is the founder of an anti-corruption, non-governmental organization Justice and Transparency Watch.

Bazrpash served as CEO of two of Iran's largest automakers – SAIPA and Pars Khodro -- during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency. He was later appointed as Vice President and head of the National Youth Organization. Bazrpash launched Vatan-e Emrouz, a pro-Ahmadinejad newspaper, shortly before the disputed 2009 presidential election.

The former vice-president allegedly used government funds and resources to publish Vatan-e Emrouz which ceased publication in August 2019 due to "financial issues" as well as corruption allegations dating to the time he was the CEO of SAIPA and Pars Khodro.

Before its closure, the newspaper avidly criticized President Hassan Rouhani and his government and often chose very controversial and provocative headlines against him and the government.

Bazrpash somehow distanced himself from Ahmadinejad after his second term of presidency came to an end in 2013. He is very close to the ultra-hardliner Paydari Front.

Iran's Supreme Court of Audit is one of the 191 members of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), a non-governmental organization with special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.

There have been some suggestions in the media that the forty-year-old Bazrpash may be seeking to run in next year's presidential election.