IranMiddle East

Ahmadinejad throws resignation out as Majlis weighs in

Ahmadinejad-Mashaei
Ahmadinejad-Mashaei

As pressure piles up on the Iranian president to return to parliament and obtain a vote of confidence for his Cabinet, more than 200 Iranian lawmakers add voice to the matter by questioning his approach toward domestic politics.

The majority of the 290 lawmakers, riled up over what they see as the president having excessively delayed the reversal of his first deputy choice despite the direct intervention of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, required on Monday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “rectify his conduct”.

“In the letter, we once again voiced our support for the Ahmadinejad administration but also called on the president to fully and promptly comply with the Leader’s instructions,” Mousa al-Reza Servati, a member of the Principlist faction in parliament, told ILNA.

The letter comes against the backdrop of controversy sparked by the appointment of Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei — who has caused political outrage by suggesting that Iran is a “friend of the Israeli people” — as the first vice president.

In a handwritten note, sent to the office of the president on July 18 and made public on Friday, the Leader had ordered Ahmadinejad to reverse his decision.

“The appointment of Mr. Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei as presidential deputy is contrary to your interests and that of the government and is a cause of division and frustration among your supporters. It is necessary for this appointment to be declared null and void,” reads the note by the Leader.

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution has the final say in all matters of the state.

Following the intervention, the president’s reluctance to reverse the decision was called into question even by his own ministers. As a sign of protest, three of the ministers — Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Mohammad-Hassan Saffar-Harandi and Labor Minister Mohammad Jahromi — walked out of a Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Although news broke out that the Ahmadinejad administration had sacked the ministers, the government moved to clarify the issue after a senior member of parliament suggested that the administration had lost its legitimacy with the measure as it had removed too many Cabinet members during the first Ahmadinejad tenure.

Only the intelligence minister has been removed, said an official working for the presidential office.

The dismissal has intensified pressures on Ahmadinejad by parliament members who contend that the ninth government is obliged to seek a new vote of confidence in its remaining 7 days in office.

According to parliament Vice Speaker Mohammad-Reza Bahonar, all Cabinet sessions of the current government are ‘illegal’ until the official second-term inauguration of the president.

Furthering the pressure on the president was an announcement by the incumbent culture and Islamic guidance minister that despite the denial, he had handed in his resignation.

Ahmadinejad has so far denied permission for the resignation.

According to Article 136 of the Constitution, an administration is required to seek a fresh vote of confidence from parliament if half of its Cabinet members are replaced.

The new letter sent by nearly 200 lawmakers to the president is official confirmation that Ahmadinejad failed to respond to the order by Ayatollah Khamenei as swiftly as he should have.

Servati touched on the issue but refrained from ruling out the possibility of the president having to face a vote of confidence before he is sworn in on August 5 for a second term.

“Members of parliament will see into the matter tomorrow in the open parliament session,” said the member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

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