Parliament v. President

MP Ali Motahari, one of the leaders behind the petition „summoning“ Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Parliament, has denied that any legislators have withdrawn their signatures. Pro-Government media claimed, after Sunday’s statement that more than 40 MPs had signed —the assent of 74 of the 290 members is needed to force Ahmadinejad to appear — that many of them had not agreed. However, Motahari said more than 50 MPs have now endorsed the petition.

After the exaggeration and confusion over the interpretation, started by The Wall Street Journal, that Iran’s Parliament was close to impeaching Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but had been blocked by the Supreme Leader — see our separate analysis — William Yong of The New York Times offers an article which tries to get the story right, both in content and significance:

Iranian Parliament members recently sent a letter detailing a long list of complaints against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Iran’s powerful Guardian Council, Iranian news media have reported, marking a new phase in an effort by traditional conservatives to rein in the administration and reassert the powers of Iran’s legislative body.

The letter, which could theoretically result in the president’s impeachment, was rapidly disavowed by its putative supporters. Many denied having signed the document.

Nevertheless, the uprising is a sign that internal fissures that developed between the Ahmadinejad government and conservatives in Parliament during last year’s wave of protests have yet to be closed.

At the same time, Yong points to further confusion and manoeuvres as some outlets try to play down the significance of the move:

The letter to the Guardian Council was released to the news media by the Parliament’s in-house news agency. It listed 14 “infringements,” including foot-dragging by the administration on the implementation of a variety of laws, as well as financial irregularities.

Those included three years of unauthorized imports of gasoline and diesel worth around $10 billion and the failure to account for up to 40 percent of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s spending on his numerous visits to Iran’s regions.

Subsequent news reports said that the petition had been signed by more than 40 members of Parliament, among them a number of prominent critics of the president. But on Monday, several members who had been named publicly as supporters of the plan distanced themselves from the letter, some issuing stern denials that the plan had been presented to members for their signatures.

“I did not sign this letter and know nothing about it,” one of them, Elias Naderan, was quoted as saying in Jam-e-Jam, a Web site that is linked with Iran’s state broadcaster, IRIB.

Another member, Hamid-Reza Fuladgar, in the same report, said, “There has been no letter to pose questions to the president, let alone have 40 M.P.’s sign it.”

On Tuesday, Ali Motahari, reported to be the architect of the plan to call Mr. Ahmadinejad to account, was criticized by pro-government members of Parliament. Mr. Motahari has not commented on the letter.



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