|Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s summoning comes in midst of a power struggle with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei [EPA]|
Iran’s parliament has summoned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for questioning over a long list of accusations including mismanagement of the nation’s economy.
The summons was the first of its kind for an Iranian president since 1979. It follows a petition by a group of legislators for a review of policy decisions by Ahmadinejad, who has come under increasing attacks in recent months from the same people who brought him to power.
It is also part of a power struggle on the Iranian political scene ahead of March 2 parliamentary elections and the 2013 presidential vote.
Mohammad Reza Bahnoar, the parliament deputy speaker, on Tuesday said lawmakers have demanded that Ahmadinejad answer a slew of questions on the economy, including purportedly bypassing a special budget for the Tehran subway and public transportation.
He is also to be queried about foreign and domestic policy decisions.
“There is a requirement for the president to answer questions in an open session of the parliament,” said Bahnoar, whose parliament speech was broadcast live on Iranian state radio.
A letter containing the summons is to be sent to Ahmadinejad in next two days, according to the parliament statement. Under Iranian law, he has up to appear in parliament after one month. It is unclear what would happen if Ahmadinejad fails to appear before parliament.
Ahmadinejad will also be asked why he “hesitated for 11 days” to act on a demand Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to reinstate intelligence minister, Heidar Moslehi, who was sacked by Ahmadinejad in 2011, and to elaborate on his snap dismissal of former foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, during a trip to Africa.
The power struggle has pitted Ahmadinejad against Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters in Iran.
Ahmadinejad and his policies have been the target of criticism by legislators, clerics as well as state-run media.
Other questions that will be put to the president include those about Iran’s slacking economic growth, and why his administration failed to promote the Islamic dress code that calls for women to wear the traditional veil. Legislators behind the initiative allege Ahmadinejad promoted Iranian nationalism instead of Islamic values.
According to the statement, Ahmadinejad is also to explain his ties to Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, whose daughter is married to the president’s son. Ahmadinejad’s opponents content he is trying to push Mashei for president after his own term expires next year.