Economy, Domestic Economy

Roads Minister’s Impeachment on Sunday

Roads Minister’s Impeachment on SundayRoads Minister’s Impeachment on Sunday

Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi’s impeachment vote is slated for Sunday, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said. 

This is the second time Akhoundi is facing an impeachment hearing. In October 2015, he won a resounding vote of confidence of 175 lawmakers to remain in his job, IRNA reported. 

The latest impeachment is vigorously pursued by 33 parliamentarians, including members of Majlis Development Commission, who did not hear out the minister’s responses to their questions. In an unprecedented move, seven parliamentarians left last week’s meeting of the commission as the minister was answering the questions.

To many observers, including a large number of lawmakers, the call for the minister’s impeachment is politically motivated. Yet, Akhoundi has announced he is all set to provide detailed answers to the questions tomorrow. 

“I am not a signatory of the impeachment motion, as I believe it is not to the interest of the country,” MP Alim Yarmohammadi said. 

“Extremism, exaggeration and politicization of the minister’s impeachment have set a poor example that should not be followed.”

Yarmohammadi noted that instead of impeaching the minister, the country needs to prioritize the improvement of people’s safety on the roads and development of transportation infrastructure. 

With less than three months left to the next presidential election in May, the parliament’s reformist group will vote against Akhoundi’s impeachment, say parliamentarians Mohammad Reza Aref and Mohammad Reza Badamchi. 

They also predicted that Akhoundi will garner the votes needed to remain as minister.

The impeachment request was initially signed by 34 parliamentarians (MP Kamal Dehqani Firouzabadi later told ILNA he has withdrawn his signature). They have cited Akhoundi’s “weak performance” in the rail sector that led to a terrible train collision in November, one of the worst rail accidents in Iran in recent memory. Forty-nine people died and 103 were injured in what was ruled as “human error”. The incident prompted the resignation of the then managing director of Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, Mohsen Pourseyyed-Aqaei.

According to the signatories, there are other grounds for the minister’s impeachment, including employment of a retired staff member for a security post despite the objection of the Ministry of Intelligence, nepotism, lack of transparency in the contracts of Iran Airports Company and putting an end to the probe related to Tehran-Tabas Antonov-140 plane crash in 2014, which killed at least 39 people, and the controversial Mehr Housing project.

The Mehr project is a large-scale construction program initiated in 2007 by the previous administration to provide two million low-income people with housing units through free land and cheap credits, but the nationwide scheme slowed down due to lack of funding. The project has also been blamed for contributing to inflation.

Vice President for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Hosseinali Amiri commended Akhoundi’s achievements in housing and urban development and said the government will throw its weight behind the troubled minister. 

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