Iran’s Ahmadinejad Defends Himself in Parliament Query

Posted March 14th, 2012 at 8:35 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has defended his record in office during an interrogation by lawmakers who accuse him of economic mismanagement and defying Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Iranian parliament's questioning of Mr. Ahmadinejad on Wednesday marked the first time that lawmakers had summoned an Iranian president to testify about his policies. Iran's state radio broadcast the hearing live.

Conservative critics of Mr. Ahmadinejad made big gains in Iran's parliamentary elections earlier this month, a result that will leave his conservative supporters with a smaller minority when the assembly is reconstituted in May. The president's parliamentary rivals have been trying to summon him for months and were emboldened by their election victories.

A prominent parliamentary critic of the president, lawmaker Ali Motahari, began the session by reading out 10 questions to Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Motahari demanded explanations for Iran's high inflation rate, the government's failure to finance Tehran's metro rail network, and the president's refusal to appear at work for 11 days last year after the supreme leader overruled his firing of the Iranian intelligence minister.

In an hour-long, sometimes flippant response, Mr. Ahmadinejad said Iran's rising inflation had “nothing to do” with his 2010 decision to scrap government subsidies of food and fuel prices. He also explained his 11-day absence from work by saying friends had told him to relax at home.

Conservative opponents of Mr. Ahmadinejad say he stayed off the job to protest the supreme leader's reinstatement of the intelligence chief whom he had fired. They say the incident is one of several in which the president has unacceptably challenged Ayatollah Khamenei's authority.

Mr. Ahmadinejad closed his remarks by mocking the lawmakers' questions, saying they were written by people who got a “master's degree by pushing a button” and declaring that he could have come up with better ones himself. Some lawmakers reacted angrily to the president's comments, accusing him of being evasive and insulting to parliament, which also has the power to impeach him.