Iran General NewsAhmadinejad orders purge of local officials before Iran polls

Ahmadinejad orders purge of local officials before Iran polls

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AFP: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered the sacking of local officials “indifferent” to the problems of ordinary Iranians, as he seeks to fulfill pledges ahead of crucial elections, the press reported on Tuesday. TEHRAN (AFP) — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered the sacking of local officials “indifferent” to the problems of ordinary Iranians, as he seeks to fulfill pledges ahead of crucial elections, the press reported on Tuesday.

Ahmadinejad has made provincial issues a central plank of his presidency, visiting all of Iran’s 30 provinces and giving speeches promising drastic improvements in local infrastructure.

“We will soon send a secret letter to provincial governors with the names of officials who should be encouraged,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the hardline Kayhan newspaper.

“But also there will be the names of officials who are indifferent. As soon as the governors receive this letter they must sack these officials,” said Ahmadinejad.

He added that other officials would be rebuked for showing “weakness” in their work.

Many economists in Iran have accused Ahmadinejad of stoking its inflation problems by ploughing windfall revenues from high oil prices into local infrastructure projects.

But the government insists that it is merely fulfilling Ahmadinejad’s election promises of making ordiniary people feel the benefits of oil wealth and has inflation under control.

The revelation of the order comes after Ahmadinejad’s advisors said on Monday that the president would soon embark on another round of provincial trips to chase up on the fulfillment of the promised projects.

Ahmadinejad was also quoted as saying Tuesday that Iran would move against elements who claimed that people in the Islamic republic were suffering economic problems.

“The United States thinks that it can oblige Iran to yield with various unilateral sanctions and using certain internal elements who affirm that people have economic problems,” the state-run news agency IRNA quoted him as saying.

“But we have identified these economic hecklers and we will soon get rid of them completely.”

Since coming to power in August 2005, Ahmadinejad has sacked numerous officials in ministries who were seen as being close to his moderate rivals, ex-presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Ahead of parliamentary elections on March 14 — which could prove crucial in determining the future direction of the Islamic republic — there has been an upsurge in political jockeying in Iran.

Several prominent figures have spoken out against Ahmadinejad’s handling of the economy in recent weeks, most notably Khatami whose forces will be seeking to launch a comeback at the vote.

Meanwhile, there have also been demonstrations at Tehran universities over the jailing of up to three years of three students on charges of publishing anti-Islamic images in four student newspapers.

In the latest protest, dozens of Iranian students from Alameh Tabatabai university shouted slogans against Ahmadinejad and called for the release of their detained colleagues, the Fars news agency reported.

“The people broke the door of the social sciences faculty and entered,” the head of the faculty’s Basij (volunteer militia), Alireza Baligh, was quoted as saying.

“This gathering was held without a permit and besides tearing down the faculty’s property they clashed with any student who had a religious appearance,” Baligh said.

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