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No Consequences For Rouhani After Speech On Economic Performance

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appeared before parliament on Aug. 28 to answer questions on his government's handling of Iran's economic struggles.

One day after Iranian Parliament grilled President Hassan Rouhani over his economic performance, it appears that there is no plan for further investigation as Majles Speaker Ali Larijani said on Wednesday August 29 that there will be no follow-up of the case.

Based on Majles procedures, the case should have been handed over to the Judiciary and Rouhani should have appeared before judges to defend his performance as he failed to convince members of the Parliament about the failure of his economic policies.

However, according to the procedure, the Majles should prove that the President has broken the law. Speaker Larijani has ruled out violation of the law by Rouhani.

“The issue is clear and is based on the Parliament Rules of Procedure,” Larijani said, adding, 'The questions from the president will not be referred to the Judiciary because the legislators have not mentioned any case of violation or disobedience of law in their questions from President Rouhani.”

According to the law of amendment of Article 213 of the Parliament Rules of Procedure, a question from the president will be sent to the Judiciary, if majority of the representatives present in the session are not convinced with the response of the president to a question and the topic under question is proved to be a violation of law or disobedience of the law by the government.

Meanwhile, Guardian Council Spokesman, Abbasali Kadkhodaei also admitted on Wednesday that majlis’ internal regulations and bylaws are obscure about the case.

“It is up to majlis to clarify the ambiguity and decide upon the outcome of a situation when a majority of the representatives present in the session are not convinced with the response of the president to a question(s),” Kadkhodaei reiterated.

Nonetheless, the conservative allies of the Supreme Leader, who have recently increased their pressure on the so-called moderate President, are insisting to find a way to refer the controversial questions to the judiciary.

Indicating to the fact that Rouhani’s responses did not convince 200 MPs on Tuesday, a prominent conservative legislator, Hossein Ali Haji Deligani, challenged majlis speaker, asking, “Whether questioning the President was in vain?”

Haji Deligani argued that majlis’ Research Center and Government Accountability Office, as well as numerous Parliamentary Commissions, have repeatedly reported on violation of law and ignoring rules by President Rouhani and his Administration.

“All these reports should be combined and pave the way for referring the questions raised by MPs to the judiciary for further investigation,” Haji Deligani maintained.

Another conservative MP and member of parliament’s influential Legal & Judicial Commission, Mohammad Dehghan also argued that it is up to the legislators, not majlis’ board of directors, to say whether the case should be referred to judiciary or not.

“Parliament’s board of directors is not authorized to assess MPs decisions; it is dutybound to obey the representatives’ will and transfer the case to the judiciary,” Dehghan argued.

Nonetheless, the speaker of the parliament has stressed that, in such matters, majlis board of directors has the final say.

The embattled Rouhani, who has been under pressure for the last eight months to dismiss his economic team amid the country’s worsening economic crisis, attended a parliamentary session on Tuesday. He had earlier promised to grab the opportunity to share “truth” with

the “nation”. However, his responses did not reflect any substantial “truth”, while his conservative MPs successfully used the stage to grill him with a barrage of criticism.

Rouhani’s performance in response to MPs questions was so weak that it even his own supporters and allies have publicly criticized it.

Questions raised by Iranian MPs from President Hassan Rouhani about the current economic situation are not to be referred to the Judiciary as there has been no example of violating or disrespecting a law by the government, the Islamic Republic’s official news agency, IRNA, cited the Majlis (Parliament) speaker as saying on Wednesday.

Ali Larijani made the announcement while responding to a legislator about the possibility of referring the question to the Judiciary.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of the Guardian Council (GC), Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, also described parliament’s internal regulations on questioning the President as “dubious”. On Tuesday, August 28, President Rouhani was summoned to Majlis to answer five questions raised by 82 out of 290 Iranian MPs about his government's failure to control goods and currency smuggling, continuation of the banking sanctions against Iran, increased rate of unemployment, growing economic depression and the downfall of the value of the national currency, rial, against hard currencies.

Apparently, Rouhani’s responses, save the one on the continuation of banking sanctions imposed on Iran, failed to “convince” the MPs.

Earlier, several MPs, including hardline cleric Mojtaba Zolnour and former Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ commander, Javad Karimi Ghoddousi had cautioned that the MPs, if not convinced by Rouhani’s responses, would refer the case to the Islamic Republic’s judiciary.