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Tehran Mayor Resigns Again After Prosecutor’s Open Threat

Tehran's mayor Mohammadali Najafi (R) at a session of Tehran's city council regarding his resignation request on Sunday, April 8, 2018.

Tehran’s Mayor Mohammad Ali Najafi has once again resigned a few hours after Prosecutor-General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri threatened him to step down.

Montazeri on April 9 called the city council’s rejection of Najafi’s first resignation “political” and told the Mayor to resign again.

The mayor’s second resignation was announced only one day after the Tehran City Council rejected his first resignation on April 8.

Some of the council members said on Sunday that Najafi had resigned under political pressure, although he had mentioned “illness” as the reason.

Montazeri called the council’s rejection of Najafi’s resignation “an act of treason,” adding that the council should be held accountable if the ailing mayor fails to fulfill his responsibilities.

Montazeri’s statement “Resign and you won’t be prosecuted,” is one of the most blatant interventions by a judiciary official in this matter.

Referring to Montazeri’s remark, Council member Zahar Sadrazam Nouri said, “Now pressures are being exerted on the mayor openly.”

Another council member Mohammad Javad Haghshenas said in a tweet, “The prosecutor’s comment is beyond his legal status, and in violation of the Constitutional Law.”

Reformist MP Mahmoud Sadeqi reminded in a tweet “This is clearly within the city council’s jurisdiction to decide on the mayor’s resignation.”

Tehran City Council Chairman Mohsen Hashemi has confirmed that the mayor has resigned again, while IRGC-linked Fars news agency reported that the city council might name an acting mayor for the time being rather than appointing a new mayor.

Meanwhile, the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) quoted Council Chairman Mohsen Hashemi as saying that Najafi has informed the council that he will not be able to fulfill his responsibilities as his doctor is making preparations for a surgical operation on him.

The council is going to decide on the mayor’s second resignation on Tuesday April 10, said Hashemi. This comes while Council member Hojat Nazari told Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) that the council would not discuss the resignation before next week.

Previously, several Iranian news websites reported “the IRGC Intelligence Organization exerted pressure on Najafi to resign.”

Najafi has repeatedly spoken about “widespread illegal actions at the Tehran Municipality” under former conservative Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. But when he said that he was planning to send some of these cases to Judiciary for investigation,

Tehran’s hardline Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi challenged Najafi to present his evidence to the Prosecutor’s Office “immediately.”

Meanwhile, the Tehran Prosecutor summoned Jafari to court in mid-March, after a video was released on social media showing Najafi at a Women’s Day ceremony where young girls were dancing.

Iran’s conservatives controlled the Tehran City Council for 14 years between 2003 and 2017. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the first Tehran Mayor elected by a conservative council in 2003. He took over as the country’s president within two years.

Qalibaf, who was defeated in the 2005 presidential election, took over as Tehran’s mayor in 2005 although he kept trying his luck as a presidential candidate in 2013 and 2017. His term of office as Mayor came to an end with reformist faction’s overwhelming victory in the council elections in March 2017, and Najafi replaced him in August.