As discontent grows over the Iranian government's economic policies, the country's unyielding lawmakers intend to call for the questioning of President Hassan Rouhani, which may result in his impeachment, the media reported on Monday.
The motion to question the president handed over to the presiding board of the assembly after it was signed by 120 lawmakers of the 290 strong Islamic Consultative Assembly or the Iranian Majles. For the motion to take effect, it has to be passed by the presiding board to the president, reported the Tasnim news agency.
Mindful of Supreme Leader's Call for Unity
Iranians' daily struggle to make ends meet has become harder since the reimposition of US sanctions in 2018, and the economy has been further damaged by rising inflation, growing unemployment, a slump in the rial and the coronavirus crisis.
Analysts, however, say the board might hold back from issuing the summons, mindful that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's top authority, has called for unity among the branches of authority at a time when Iran faces mounting US pressure. A move by parliament to question Rouhani's predecessor was blocked by a rare intervention by Khamenei.
"The lawmakers have various questions for the president, including the reasons behind the foreign exchange market crisis as well as the high prices of basic goods and basic necessities of the people today," Tasnim quoted Tehran lawmaker Eqbal Shakeri as saying.
Economic Crisis of The Nation
Defying the central bank attempts to revive its value, Iran's rial currency has continued to fall against the US dollar on the unofficial market since April. First elected in a landslide in 2013 and re-elected in 2017, Rouhani opened the door to nuclear diplomacy with six major powers that led to a 2015 nuclear deal, under which Iran agreed to curb its sensitive nuclear work in return for the easing of sanctions.
But hardliners opposed to the West were always lukewarm about the agreement, and they fiercely criticized Rouhani when US President Donald Trump quit the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions that have choked Iran's vital oil exports.
Iran's sanctions-damaged economy forced Khamenei to give tentative backing to the accord but the country's top authority has regularly criticized its implementation. According to Tasnim, lawmakers also planned to ask Rouhani about "the government's strategic mistake that allowed the US withdrawal from the deal at the lowest cost".
Khamenei Agress To Nuclear Talks
On Sunday, shouts of 'liar' interrupted a speech to parliament about the accord by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as some lawmakers vented their displeasure. Zarif, also Iran's top nuclear negotiator, hit back by saying that the nuclear talks had been agreed by Khamenei.
Analysts say the hardline Khamenei may be happy to have a weakened Rouhani, but he does not want to harm the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic by forcing the president out of the office with less than one year of his second-term left.
Parliament has no major influence on foreign affairs or nuclear policy, which are set by Khamenei. But it might bolster hardliners in the 2021 election for president and toughen the anti-Western tilt of Tehran's foreign policy.
(With inputs from agencies)