AFP: Iran's parliament on Tuesday voted to sack Interior Minister Ali Kordan for lying about his credentials and presenting a fake degree from a prestigious British university.
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran's parliament on Tuesday voted to sack Interior Minister Ali Kordan for lying about his credentials and presenting a fake degree from a prestigious British university.
The scandal has been a major source of embarrassment for the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has defended Kordan throughout the controversy and who refused to appear in parliament for the impeachment.
Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said 188 MPs among the 247 present voted to impeach Kordan for dishonesty while 45 lawmakers were against the motion and 14 abstained.
"The impeachment was approved by parliament and he cannot be interior minister from now on," Larijani said in a speech carried live on state radio.
It was the 10th change in the 21-strong cabinet of Ahmadinejad, who had described Kordan as a "victim" and insisted he be allowed to remain in the job.
The impeachment puts Ahmadinejad's government in a fragile position as under Iran's constitution the entire cabinet would have to be submitted to a new vote of confidence if half the ministers change.
"Kordan's impeachment was a trial for the country and the system. It showed that the parliament has no tolerance for anyone in its bid to implement the law," Larijani said after the session, according to the Mehr news agency.
Kordan had been under pressure to quit the key cabinet post he took up just three months ago after Oxford University denied awarding him any qualification, as he had claimed.
Several MPs delivered heated speeches to the house, arguing that Kordan could not be trusted to run such a sensitive ministry and that he had benefited from the financial perks of a degree he had not earned.
MP Ebrahim Nekunam said that not only does Kordan — who worked as a university law professor — not possess a Phd in law from Oxford as he claimed, but also that he "does not have a master's or bachelor's degree."
Kordan accused the media of launching a smear campaign against him by portraying him as a "terrorist" and "violence-seeking person", naming Israeli radio and some Persian-speaking media based outside Iran.
He had shown the purported degree to MPs in a controversial vote of confidence on August 5 but he told parliament on Tuesday he would not have presented the degree if he had doubted its validity.
But MP Bijan Nobaveh accused him of "still lying" and said MPs had to "restore the reputation" of the Islamic system by the impeachment as Kordan "had reduced public faith and confidence in the system."
Kordan replaced Ahmadinejad critic Mostafa Pour Mohammadi in the key post in one of the many cabinet reshuffles since the president took office in 2005.
The interior ministry is charged with maintaining domestic security as well as holding elections, appointing provincial governors and issuing permits for political parties and non-governmental organisations.
A veteran manager in the Islamic republic, Kordan served for years as the administrative and financial vice president of state television when it was headed by Larijani and also served in the oil ministry.
Kordan said he had approached Oxford University after MPs cast doubt on his degree, but "to my utter disbelief, the university did not confirm (the degree) when my representative went there."
He said he had pressed charges against the person who claimed to represent Oxford University in Tehran as soon as he realised his degree was fake.
MPs were also infuriated last week by a government aide's efforts to pay lawmakers to vote against the impeachment and he was subsequently sacked.