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Iran Parliament Drops Plan To Impeach Education Minister

Iranian Education Minister - Mohammad Bathaei
Iranian Education Minister - Mohammad Bathaei
Tehran, Sept 2, 2018 (AFP)

Iran's parliament called off a planned vote to impeach the education minister on Sunday, Iranian media reported, offering some respite for the embattled government of President Hassan Rouhani.

Twenty-nine lawmakers signed a motion last Wednesday to impeach the minister, Mohammad Bathaei, but all of them withdrew their signatures.

"Given the imminent opening of schools (on September 23), those requesting the impeachment have withdrawn their request," said Ahmad Amirabadi, a member of parliament's presiding board, according to the semi-official news agency ISNA.

Rouhani has faced mounting pressure from lawmakers over his handling of an economic crisis, partly triggered by the withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposition of sanctions.

Parliament sacked his labour and economy ministers last month, and Industries Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari has also been targeted for impeachment, though it is not clear if that will still go ahead.

Rouhani himself was summoned to parliament to answer questions from lawmakers last Tuesday, a first in his five years in power, and only the second time for a sitting president.

Economic grievances played a role in Bathaei's planned impeachment, with lawmakers criticising the reduced budget for education and school renovation, though senior officials pointed out that the minister has no power over budgets.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week welcomed the pressure on Rouhani's cabinet, saying it was a sign of the strength of Iran's democracy.

But he also warned that differences between officials should not be overly emphasised "because the people would become worried".