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Outspoken Lawmaker In Iran Harshly Attacks Khamenei-Controlled Bodies

Ali Motahari, a maverick, outspoken member of Iran's parliament, who does not belong to the two dominant political factions in Iran. December 6, 2019

An outspoken lawmaker in Iran has attacked the entities under Khamenei's control for undermining the authority of the Parliament and warned that weakening the Majles can lead to the downfall of the regime.

In a fiery speech in Majles on Tuesday Ali Motahari harshly criticized the involvement of entities appointed by Khamenei in legislation and called for the dissolution of the Economic Coordination Council (ECC) which consists of the President, Chief Justice and Majles Speaker.

It is the second day in a row that fiery speeches stir the Iranian parliament. Yesterday a female lawmaker accused the Islamic Republic of "grim despotism" and the ever-increasing powers of parallel, unelected centers of power under Khamenei's control.

Motahari said the Majles has been weakened as a result of the unconstitutional interference of the Expediency Council, and the (ECC) formed by the Supreme Leader in May 2018 as "an economic war room" to deal with the U.S. sanctions

"What the lawmakers decide should be final, they have no right to re-investigate Majles legislation … They have tied the feet and hands of the Majles," Motahari declared.

As an example of the Expediency Council's interference in legislation Motahari mentioned the delay in the ratification of approved laws which would allow Iran to join the United Nation's Palermo and CFT conventions against transnational crimes, money laundering and funding of terrorism.

The international watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) gave a final warning to Iran to finalize the legislation required for joining the said conventions in October and threatened to put Iran back on its blacklist if it failed to comply with these conventions before February 2020.

In his speech on Tuesday Motahari said the Expediency Council has delayed the arbitration between the Majles and the Guardian Council on the FATF-related legislation, claiming that the bills are "against the General Policies" announced by the Supreme Leader.

"Under such pretense and with that interpretation the Council has withheld the Palermo and CFT bills, but we only have until February [to join these conventions]. Otherwise we will be put on the blacklist and there will be problems for the country," Motahari said today and added: "Tying the hands of the Majles in this way is not expediency. We defend the institution of the Parliament whether we are in it in the future or not."

The ECC was another entity formed by Khamenei that Motahari harshly criticized. "The purpose of forming the council was to make urgent decisions for circumventing the sanctions but now it is getting itself involved in every matter. I believe it should be dissolved as soon as possible," Motahari said.

Motahari blamed the ECC for "the bad decision and even worse implementation" of rationing gasoline and increasing its price in November which led to bloody demonstrations throughout the country.

The regime should not only blame outside forces such as the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) and the supporters of the former Iranian royal family for the sad events that followed the decision taken by the ECC, he said and added: "Our own intelligence bodies confess that [the demonstrators] were the poverty-stricken masses."

Motahari said that in normal circumstances the President must have been impeached for the events that shook the country but due to the current critical conditions the least the Majles can do is to impeach the Interior Minister as the main person responsible for the implementation of the plan.

Ali Motahari, a former deputy speaker of the Majles, is an influential politician with more liberal political views compared with other politicians but conservative social views. He is well-known for defending freedom of speech and his courageous remarks about controversial issues such as the Iranian intelligence community's use of "forced confessions" by suspects to incriminate others.