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Iran's Parliament Expands Impeachment To Include Three Ministers

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, speaking at a session of parliament to get approval for his two picks for energy, and science ministries, on October 29, 2017.

Iran’s Parliament (Majles) is going to impeach the Rouhani administration’s labor, roads and agriculture ministers within a week, Iranian TV’s IRIB News agency quoted deputy speaker Ali Motahari as saying on Saturday March 10.

Motahari said the impeachments will be made on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

However, Another Iranian MP, Akbar Ranjbarzadeh, told reporters in Tehran that the Majles will impeach Labor Minister Ali Rabi’i Tuesday morning, while the impeachment of Roads and Transportation Minister Abbas Akhundi is on the agenda for Tuesday afternoon, and Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojati’s impeachment will take place on Wednesday.

The call for impeachment of Roads and Transportation Minister Abbas Akhundi was made on February 19, one day after an Iranian Aseman Airline passenger aircraft crashed en-route from Tehran to Yasuj, killing all 65 passengers and crew members.

Experts have attributed frequent crashes and dangerous incidents such as crash-landings to the fact that Iran’s passenger fleet is too old and outdated. Most of the aircraft in use in Iran were manufactured in the 1970s, and in recent years, international sanctions imposed on Iran to make it comply with international regulations have hindered purchase of new airplanes.

While tabling the motion for impeachment of Akhundi, MPs listed “incapability to deal with the crises in the country’s transportation system, failing to supervise the air and land transport fleets, not implementing Majles plans about transportation, and lack of motivation to run the affairs of their ministries” as some of the reasons for his impeachment.

Akhundi was previously impeached three times but every time he managed to win the MPs’ vote of confidence.

Meanwhile, MPs listed “ignoring the workers’ rights, failure in running the pension funds as well as poor performance in the area of entrepreneurship” as some of the reasons for Labor Minister Rabi’i’s impeachment.

The sinking of Iran’s oil tanker Sanchi on 15 January brought Rabi’i under a lot of criticism and the crash involving the Aseman airliner brought about further anger and frustration among members of Parliament, the media and the public as Rabi’i’s ministry owned both the oil tanker and the crashed airplane.

The motion for impeachment of Agriculture Minister Hojati was tabled last week, stating “incapability to regulate the market for agricultural products, bankruptcy of sugar factories and a drop in production of milk in Iran” as some of his failures.

The Rouhani administration has not officially reacted to the multiple impeachments, however, Vice-President Es’haq Jahangiri said: “Impeachment is a right for the Majles, but some people tend to portray the administration’s best achievements in a negative light,” Iranian media reported last week.

It does not seem that the multiple impeachment initiatives are motivated by partisan politics; conservatives trying to destabilize President Hassan Rouhani’s government. There are also reformists in the pro-impeachment camp.