News

Iran's Ahmadinejad Defends Record in Parliament Query

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad answers questions in an open session in parliament in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad answers questions in an open session in parliament in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, March 14, 2012.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has shrugged off criticism of his record in office during an interrogation by lawmakers who accuse him of economic mismanagement and defying Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Iranian parliament's questioning of Mr. Ahmadinejad on Wednesday marked the first time that lawmakers had summoned an Iranian president to testify about his policies. Iran's state radio broadcast the hearing live.

Conservative critics of Mr. Ahmadinejad have been emboldened since making big gains in parliamentary elections earlier this month. The results will leave the president, also a conservative, with an even smaller minority of supporters when the assembly is reconstituted in May.

A prominent parliamentary critic of the president, lawmaker Ali Motahari, began the session by reading from a list of 10 questions to Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Motahari demanded explanations for Iran's high inflation rate, the government's failure to finance Tehran's metro rail network, and the president's refusal to appear at work for 11 days last year after the supreme leader overruled his firing of the Iranian intelligence minister.

In an hour-long, sometimes flippant response, Mr. Ahmadinejad said Iran's rising inflation had "nothing to do" with his 2010 decision to scrap government subsidies of food and fuel prices.  He also explained his 11-day absence from work by saying friends had told him to relax at home.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's conservative critics say he stayed off the job to protest the supreme leader's reinstatement of the intelligence chief, whom he had fired.  They say the incident is one of several in which the president has unacceptably challenged Ayatollah Khamenei's authority.

Rasool Nafisi, a northern Virginia-based Mideast analyst, told VOA that the questions prepared by the lawmakers were not precise enough to challenge the president, enabling him to deflect or dismiss them easily.

Mr. Ahmadinejad closed his remarks by mocking those questions, saying they were written by people who received a "master's degree by pushing a button" and declaring that he could have come up with better ones himself.

Lawmakers critical of the president reacted angrily, telling Iranian media that his comments were evasive and insulting.  Some also called for parliament to impeach him.

Nafisi said impeachment is "not going to happen" under current circumstances because it would require the "tacit approval" of Ayatollah Khamenei.  He said the supreme leader will not permit more political chaos in the country while he confronts the West in a dispute about the Iranian nuclear program.  Western powers accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of energy and medical projects, a charge Tehran denies.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin
March 15, 2012 10:48 AM
Iran all through its change of name from Persia, has been struggling to become relevant in the world and in its region. Worse for it, Saudi Arabia accuses it to be stooge of the Jews. Therefore to show that this is not, it falls headlong proposing extreme hatred for Zion. This rather than help it has drawn it deeper into the quagmire from which recovery is mission impossible. You may discover that Ahmadinejad, like Hitler, has Jewish blood in him.

by: Godwin
March 15, 2012 10:28 AM
Ahmadinejad's most important defense should be Saudi Arabia's accusation that Iran's shia islam is of the Jews. Ahmadinejad should also explain or defend what he means by the term, nuke for peaceful use. I think the Khamenei's party wants to know why Iran with over 75m population controls just a handful of muslims while SA with just under 30m people boasts of majority. He should also explain why he has not known that his threat is SArabia all this while.

by: Yasin
March 15, 2012 3:54 AM
Mr Ahmadinejad let me see. you should be patient to face what happened. you should make a compromise to supreme leader that make sure what's his reason to resign Intelligent minister. you should apologise to supreme leader and you must recognised that you have made mistake.

by: mervin
March 15, 2012 12:18 AM
Bravo IRANIANS

by: Golnaz
March 14, 2012 8:36 AM
Goes to show that in Iran no-one is accountable while they're in power. Khamenei, the Majlis, and Ahmadinejad deserve each other.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs