Twenty-four members of the Iranian Parliament (Majles) have tabled a motion on March 6 to impeach two of President Hassan Rouhani’s ministers: Labor and Social Welfare Minister Ali Rabi’i, and Roads and Urban Planning Minister Abbas Akhundi.
Announcing the plan for impeachment, MP Akbar Ranjbarzadeh, a member of the Majles presidium said the impeachment will take place next week, adding that the ministers will have a maximum of 10 days to respond to questions.
The motion for impeachment was tabled on February 19, one day after an Iranian Aseman airliner crashed near Yasuj, killing all 65 passengers and crew members on board.
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frequent crashes and dangerous incidents such as crash-landings to the fact that Iran’s passenger fleet is too old and outdated.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.
In a letter calling for the impeachment of the two ministers, the MPs lambasted the ministers for “their 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.”
MP Mohahammad Reza Malekshahi, a member of the Majles Urban Planning Committee and a conservative told Mehr news agency in February that Akhundi should be impeached as no official has resigned following several road and air accidents.
Another MP, Ali Yarmohamadi, a member of the parliament’s reformist faction, told Mehr that air crashes happen everywhere, but the extent of irresponsibility and lack of coordination in the Ministry of Roads and Transportation is unprecedented.”
Yet another MP, Mohammad Rezai Kuchi, who is a conservative, criticized Akhundi saying, no one at his ministry apologized to people who were stranded on the roads following a snowfall or after several people lost their lives in the air crash.
Although, most of those who spoke in support of impeachment are conservatives, it is hard to say if the move is solely a political ploy by opponents of president Rouhani.
Majles impeached Akhundi once before in 2016, but finally renewed its vote of confidence in him.
Meanwhile, speaking on the reasons for Labor Minister Raimi’s impeachment, Malekshahi referred to the accident that led to the sinking of the oil Tanker Sanchi on 15 January which claimed 32 lives. Rabi’i as labor minister is also the owner of Aseman Airline.
Official news agency IRNA affiliated with the Rouhani administration praised Rabi’i for “his achievement” in boosting employment figures and salaries, but did not defend him as the head of a ministry that owns Aseman Airline.
Mehr news agency in its report ruled out Rabi’i’s “achievements” and reminded that critics have disputed the statistics on job creation and that there has been an eye-catching rise in the number of demonstrations by workers protesting the non-payment of wages that have been delayed for over six months in some cases.
Reacting to the news of the impeachment, 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.”