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MPs, Media Challenge Rouhani's Call For More Power

Iran -- Mahmoud Vaezi is an Iranian engineer, politician, former diplomat and Minister of Communication in Rouhani's

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, has defended Rouhani's call for more power while critics continue to voice their opposition to Rouhani's expanding authority.

The Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) quoted Vaezi on June 7 as having said that Rouhani needs more power in order "to make decisions about problems quickly."

"The president must be able to make decisions quickly. That is why he has called for more authority," ILNA quoted Vaezi as saying.

In May, Rouhani said that he needs the extensive powers granted by Iran's former leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to executive officials during the Iraq War in the 1980s.

The comment was widely criticized at the time by hard-line media and officials as well as commentators from both sides of Iran's political spectrum.

"There is a lot of foreign pressure on the country today, which has affected Iran's economy and trade," Vaezi said. "Running the affairs of the state at this time needs concentration of management, and proper and transparent decision-making.”

Speaking on the same day to the IRGC-linked hard-line news agency Tasnim, Mohammad Ali Pourmokhtar, the MP for Kabudarahang, said Rouhani has demanded more power in order "to evade accountability for his performance."

"Rouhani has more power than the wartime governments," he said, adding that the president should not require further authority.

"Instead of complaining about a lack of authority, the president should use his powers in the right way," Pourmokhtar said. "The people's main preoccupation is their economic problems, and he has all the power in the area of the economy because the country's priority is confronting the economic war imposed on Iran. But if he wants more power in other areas, he should know that matters other than the economy are not the nation's priority."

Earlier, Sabzevar MP Hossein Maqsoudi also criticized Rouhani’s request. He told Tasnim that Rouhani has enough power to make decisions and solve the country's problems.

Maqsoudi advised the president to "correct his wrong policies of recent years," adding that he does not need more power than that granted him by the Constitutional Law.

Hard-line daily newspaper Kayhan, which is linked to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's office, published several articles criticizing Rouhani for demanding more power.

In a June 1 article, Kayhan commentator Mohammad Hossein Mohtaram called Rouhani's demand "illogical and illegal expectations and requests," adding, "The people will smell dictatorship from such a request. It will definitely add to their distrust of the administration."

"The problem is not about a shortage of authorities. It is about the inappropriate usage of the many authorities of the administration. It is not acceptable and fair to continue to blame sanctions and previous administrations for problems for six years," he wrote.

Reformist commentator Sadeq Zibakalam also criticized Rouhani in an interview with Aftab Yazd newspaper on May 19, saying Rouhani's performance has disappointed voters who voted for him in 2013 and 2017.

"The Rouhani administration has had too many mistakes in the area of the economy during the past two years," he wrote, adding that Rouhani "complains about his limited authority at a time when the rate of inflation is very high and economic growth is negative. Would Rouhani still say his powers were limited if the economic situation of the country was desirable and the rate of inflation was not as high as 50 percent?"

"Instead of complaining, the president must use his potential powers as described by the constitutional law," Zibakalam wrote.