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.

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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
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Comment Sorting
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

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.

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