Middle East

Iran parliament drops summons for Ahmadinejad

TEHRAN: Iran’s parliament has dropped a summons calling President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in for questioning, Iranian media reported Wednesday, signaling an uneasy truce after months of political struggle between rival conservative factions.

One hundred of parliament’s 290 members signed a motion in June summoning Ahmadinejad to face questions, amid mounting criticism, particularly from hard-line conservatives who accuse the president of riding roughshod over the legislature.

But, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for unity among the branches of power, parliament’s presiding board held back from issuing the summons and Speaker Ali Larijani said it was now invalid as several lawmakers had pulled out.

“Sixty-nine signatures remain … others have been withdrawn,” Larijani told state radio. That is less than the 75 signatures needed to force the president to face parliament.

The truce comes as Iran faces increasing pressure from Washington, which wants to tighten sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program after it discovered what it says was an Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Iran denies, however, it was involved.

Top-level policy in the most sensitive areas is set by the supreme leader so the position of the president on issues like the nuclear program and dealing with the West is not decisive.

Many lawmakers are unhappy at parliament’s failure to call Ahmadinejad to order and one, Ali Motahari, resigned in protest.

“This is a limitation on the authority of lawmakers, stopping them doing part of their jobs,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Motahari as saying.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 27, 2011, on page 9.

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