Iran's Khamenei halts president's grilling by parliament
TEHRAN - Agence France-Presse
AP photoParliament has scrapped plans to summon President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over Iran's economic woes following an intervention by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the ISNA news agency said today, AFP reported.
The decision was announced after Khamenei was quoted on his website, Khamenei.ir, as saying, "I ask lawmakers not to pursue" the planned questioning.
Khamenei has the final word over all state matters in the Islamic republic.
A petition submitted by 77 MPs in the 290-seat parliament on November 4 required Ahmadinejad to appear before lawmakers within a month to explain his "government's procrastination in managing" Iran's sanctions-hit economy.
The move was put in motion after the national currency, the rial, lost more than two-thirds of its value in a 20-day span starting in late September.
Shortly after Khamenei's remarks were published, parliament abandoned the planned grilling, ISNA reported.
"By adhering to the supreme leader, we announce that we will not pursue the task," it quoted lawmaker Evaz Heidarpour as saying on behalf of the 77 MPs behind the move.
Khamenei meanwhile praised the conservative-dominated parliament for initiating the plan, saying "it showed a sense of responsibility in the assembly and a readiness by government officials to answer" questions on Iran's economic woes.
The rial's collapse sparked a row within the regime's faction-driven political system, with Ahmadinejad blaming international sanctions targeting Iran's economy over its controversial nuclear programme, as well as the other branches of government.
Iran's economy is struggling to cope with the gradual tightening of sanctions by the United States and the European Union over the past two years.
The sanctions have targeted Iran's vital oil exports and revenues as well as its access to the global banking system, accelerating inflation and slowing industrial and economic progress.
Ahmadinejad's opponents meanwhile have criticised the government for being unable to stem the crisis, which officials liken to an "economic war." Khamenei himself weighed in in early October, saying "some mismanagement" of the draconian measures were adding to "problems" for Iran's economy. He however has repeatedly called on top officials in government, parliament and the judiciary to stop bickering in public.