Iran General NewsIran energy minister spared impeachment by one vote

Iran energy minister spared impeachment by one vote

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Reuters: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad narrowly avoided losing his second minister in as many months on Sunday when parliament voted not to impeach him by just one vote.

By Reza Derakhshi

TEHRAN, March 6 (Reuters) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad narrowly avoided losing his second minister in as many months on Sunday when parliament voted not to impeach him by just one vote.

In parliament, which ousted Ahmadinejad’s transport minister in February, 101 lawmakers voted to impeach Energy Minister Majid Namjou but 102 voted against, with 209 voting in total.

Namjou’s survival spares Ahmadinejad the defeat he suffered last month in an impeachment that he branded “illegal” and which illustrated on-going divisions between parliament and the executive.

In a conciliatory move, Ahmadinejad, who snubbed the impeachment hearing for Transport Minister Hamid Behbahani, attended Sunday’s session to appeal for Namjou’s career.

“What the lawmakers said (during the debate) indicated how much they care about the country’s affairs … But I hope Mr Namjou remains in the office,” he said.

Speaking in favour of the impeachment, lawmaker Yussef Najafi said the minister had to go due to “his mismanagement and lack of tangible programme”.

In Iran the energy minister oversees the electricity and water networks but is not in charge of the vitally important oil and gas sectors which come under the Oil Ministry.

Pre-empting any accusation that parliament was trying to undermine the government, Najafi added: “If the lawmakers use their legal supervisory means, it does not mean they oppose the cabinet members.”

In February, Ahmadinejad said the impeachment of the transport minister, which followed a fatal air crash, was illegal and said: “I will speak to the Iranian public about the performance of the legislative body.”

The hardline president has often angered members of parliament, which is also dominated by conservatives, who accuse him of being slow to submit national budgets for their scrutiny and failing to disburse funds for projects such as the expansion of Tehran’s metro.

In January, Ahmadinejad accused the heads of parliament and the judiciary of “interfering” in his government’s business — a warning to two high profile conservative rivals: parliament speaker and former presidential hopeful Ali Larijani and his brother Sadeq who heads the judiciary.

Factional divisions within the ruling elite prompted Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last August to order the executive and legislative branches of government to stop squabbling.

Infighting among the conservatives who rule the Islamic Republic have became more apparent since after the huge reformist opposition protests that followed Ahmadinejad’s contested 2009 re-election were crushed.

The “Green” movement has experienced something of a resurgence over the past month, inspired by uprisings in the Middle East and the apparent incarceration of opposition leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi. (Writing by Reza Derakhshi and Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

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