Iran General NewsPetition seeks impeachment of Iranian Interior Minister

Petition seeks impeachment of Iranian Interior Minister

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ImageNew York Times: More than 20 members of Parliament petitioned their colleagues on Wednesday to impeach the interior minister after investigations indicated that he did not hold several academic degrees that he had claimed.

The New York Times

By NAZILA FATHI
Published: October 15, 2008

ImageTEHRAN — More than 20 members of Parliament petitioned their colleagues on Wednesday to impeach the interior minister after investigations indicated that he did not hold several academic degrees that he had claimed.

If the minister, Ali Kordan, is impeached, Parliament will have to hold a vote of confidence on all other cabinet members. According to the Constitution, if 10 cabinet members are dismissed, all members must face a confidence vote.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dismissed nine cabinet members in the past three years because they disagreed with his policies. No president has faced a confidence vote on the entire cabinet.

Parliament has not yet scheduled a vote on Mr. Kordan’s fate.

The news of the impeachment request comes at a difficult time for Mr. Ahmadinejad, who has faced increasing pressure from the parliamentary opposition in recent months — in part because of complaints over his management of the economy — as well as a revolt by the merchant class over a new sales tax.

Merchants who run bazaars and wield significant power in Iran went on strike recently in several cities, including Tehran.

On Tuesday, the bazaar in Tehran reopened. It was unclear on Wednesday why the merchants ended their strike and whether they might have been granted a secret exemption to the tax. It was also unclear if bazaars in Isfahan and Tabriz remained closed.

To date, Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final word on state matters, has backed the embattled president publicly.

Mr. Kordan, who became interior minister in August, had claimed that he had an honorary doctorate from Oxford University.

But after he won parliamentary approval, one of the members of Parliament posted on his Web site a letter from the university saying that it had never given an honorary doctorate to Mr. Kordan.

Mr. Kordan said in a letter to the president this month that he had received the degree from a representative of Oxford in Tehran. He said he had not questioned the authenticity of his degree until the Parliament member posted the letter from the university.

After that, an investigation by Parliament said that Mr. Kordan also did not receive a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree from Iran’s Open University, as he claimed. He has not responded publicly to the newest information.

Parliament members have requested impeachment hearings for other cabinet members in the past but dropped their requests before votes were held.

On Tuesday, Mr. Ahmadinejad dismissed a key deputy oil minister, Mohammad-Reza Nematzadeh, but gave no reason.

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