TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran’s parliament summoned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for questioning, semi-official Mehr news agency said on Monday, raising tensions in a power struggle between factions in the Islamic Republic’s ruling elite.
Ahmadinejad — facing parliamentary elections next year and a presidential race in 2013 — must attend the assembly within a month, Mehr said, after 100 lawmakers signed a motion calling him in.
Unless he can persuade parliament to withdraw the summons, Ahmadinejad will face questions over his delay in nominating a sports minister [ID:nHAF139871] [ID:nPOM453974] and in granting parliament-approved funding to the Tehran Metro, Mehr said.
Both issues are the subject of long-running tussles between president and lawmakers and some members of parliament have suggested impeaching Ahmadinejad over what his critics in the house have called his “demagogic” manner.
The conservative-dominated parliament has often used its constitutional powers against Ahmadinejad, particularly over ministerial appointments and budgetary matters, and most recently rejected a close ally he nominated as deputy foreign minister.
Ahmadinejad’s opponents have been emboldened by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s intervention in April to stop the president sacking his intelligence minister, which analysts said showed he could no longer count on the complete support of Iran’s top authority.
Far from toning down his policies, Ahmadinejad sacked several other ministers, including the head of the Oil Ministry — the body in charge of exploiting Iran’s vast mineral reserves — in what he said was merely the execution of a previously announced government streamlining.
Parliament voted against the merger of the Oil and Energy Ministries last week and the semi-official Fars news agency said on Monday that the government had withdrawn the ministerial merger plan — which had aimed to reduce the number of ministries to 17 from 21 — to review it.
As well as facing pressure over policy issues, Ahmadinejad faces accusations that many of his closest aides are part of a “deviant current” who they say put secular nationalism ahead of Islamic values and are a threat to Iran’s clerical rule.
Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Louise Ireland