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Iran Lawmakers Call For Impeachments, Warn Ministers As Elections Approach


File photo - Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani (seated C) and members of parliament wear the outfit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp as a sign of protest against U.S. decision to sanction the military force. March 2019

Members of the Iranian Parliament (Majles) have recently tabled motions that can adversely affect President Hassan Rouhani's administration.

Most recently, on Sunday June 30, several members of the Parliament called for amending the internal regulations of the Majles in a way that would strengthen the parliament's supervisory role, and give it a better leverage on the administration, Tasnim news agency reported.

More than marking an escalation in differences between the Iranian legislative and executive powers, this and most of other recent activities by the Majles are meant to provide MPs with opportunities to portray themselves as influential and militant politicians who can challenge other parts of the government ahead of the upcoming legislative elections next year.

Based on Majles regulations, MPs are entitled to issue "warnings" to cabinet ministers to correct their performance. Although MPs have used this privilege rather frequently, almost none of the warnings appear to have had any real impact in the way the administration operates.

Now the MPs want to add a point in existing regulation to introduce a one month ultimatum to government ministries to respond to warnings issued by the Majles.

However, the suggested clause does not say what happens if the administration ignores such warnings.

The most recent warning by the Majles was issued to the Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, putting him on notice not to implement UNESCO's 2030 agenda in the area of communication and information, Tasnim reported on Sunday.

UNESCO advocates the recognition of the vital role that freedom of expression and access to information and knowledge play in sustainable societies.

In the meantime, the number of calls for impeachment of cabinet ministers have been on the rise recently as the February 2020 deadline for holding the next Majles elections nears and unofficial campaigns and publicity stunts have already started, to garner support for the re-election of incumbent MPs.

Tabnak reported on June 10 that some 40 members of parliament, mainly hardliners have called for the impeachment of Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh for "the inefficiency and ambiguity of the Oil Ministry's diplomatic relations to facilitate oil exports."

The call for impeachment of the Oil Minister for failing to sell enough oil simply ignores the fact that Iran's oil exports are sanctioned by the United States and it’s this ban and sanctions on international banking that has led to a dramatic decline in Iran's oil sales, which have dropped to just over 200,000 barrels per day based on latest estimates. This is one-tenth of what Iran was selling in early 2018.

Members of the Majles have also called for the impeachment of Iran's Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hajjati.

In a letter to Majles Speaker Ali Larijani which was published on June 29 by Tasnim news agency, the MPs complained that Hojjati has refused to respond to parliament to offer explanations about his performance as the Minister of Agricultural Jihad.

Some 35 lawmakers have asked Hojjati 20 questions about flaws in his Ministry's performance, but the Minister has refused to go to the Majles and discuss the matter. So, the lawmakers have asked Larijani to set a date for Hojjati's impeachment.

Subsequently, Larijani has said that the impeachment will go ahead as Hojjati has failed to report to the Majles during the past two weeks.

As relations between the speaker of the Majles and the Rouhani administration have been friendly during the past year, there is little if any reason to believe that the moves by MPs are motivated by anything other than attempting to gain recognition and winning popularity among voters.

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