Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Does Iran want a new President ?

 The Parliament of Iran is reportedly trying to raise a petition that would oust President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This was confirmed by the Conservative newspapers in Iran, which reported that the lawmakers have started the petition to collect 74 signatures to debate impeachment in parliament. “Impeachment in the Iranian parliament only has a chance if Ayatollah Khamenei is 100% behind it” said Mansour Farhang an Iran analyst. Ayatollah Khamenei is the supreme leader of Iran. 


                                         Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005. It was the first time since 1981 that a non cleric became a President. The 2009 presidential elections turned violent and there was widespread opposition to Ahmadinejad, yet with the support of Ayatollah Ali Khamenie he won.  Ahmadinejad has three sets of opponents – The Western governments that are trying to prevent him from obtaining nuclear weapons, the Iranian reformist movement which tried to defeat him in the 2009 presidential election and the ruling conservative movement.
In a report released on Sunday, 21st November, four prominent lawmakers laid out the most severe criticism of Ahmadinejad.   They accused him and his government on 14 counts of violating the law and acting without the approval of the legislature. The alleged offences include a $590m withdrawal from Central Bank’s foreign reserve fund without parliamentary approval, the illegal import of oil and natural gas and lack of transparency in budget spending. Ray Takeyh, an Iran watcher at the New York based Council on Foreign Relations, told BBC conservatives are concerned that the president is trying to transform the country “from the Islamic Republic to the Ahmadinejad Republic”. 

                                                         The Parliament of Iran
The charges against Ahmadinejad come as a response to the domestic pressure that his regime faces over his plans to eliminate subsidies for fuel, food and utilities from an economy torn by a series of international sanctions over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program. Authorities have tightened security and arrested members of the opposition to prevent riots and uprisings in response to the subsidy cuts, which economists say will drive up inflation.
 The move to remove the president from office marks the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic that parliament has discussed impeachment of a President. “There are clear rivalries within the Iranian government and multiple camps around Ahmadinejad, Larijani and others.” said State Department of United States’ spokesman P.J Crowley. “Those tensions have certainly been exacerbated as Iran feels more pressure from sanctions and political isolation. “
Websites and blogs which are the primary outlet for Iran’s opposition have seen Iranians urging parliament to oust Ahmadinejad. One blogger wrote “act independently for the good of the public”. Ahmadinejad has a turbulent relationship with parliament since his election in the first term, but the differences escalated in his second term, when the lawmakers refused to approve eight of his cabinet nominees. Khamenei intervened, asking the Parliament to compromise and only three cabinet choices were refused. The parliament also fought for a year over his economic plan and the subsidy cuts.   

                                         The Supreme Leader - Ayatollah Khamenei
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have the support of the Supreme Leader for now. But in the long term, some believe that his position may come under threat. “The charges against him are that he is attempting to centralize power in his hands. And that, in due course will threaten Khamenei if he’s not careful” said Ray Takeyh to BBC.

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