Roads Minister  Wins Trust Vote

Roads Minister Wins Trust Vote

Roads and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi's defense in his impeachment session at Parliament on Tuesday won him boosted confidence, meaning he will continue to hold the post.

In a vote on the impeachment, 175 lawmakers opposed the minister's dismissal, while 72 said he should be sacked and 5 abstained, ISNA reported.

Among the main reasons cited for impeaching the minister was his failure to fulfill pledges he made when seeking the Parliament's vote of confidence about two years ago.

President Hassan Rouhani named Akhoundi to the Majlis as the candidate for the position in summer 2013. He was then approved for the office with 159 favorable votes, 107 against and 18 abstentions.

General problems plaguing his ministry and those specifically related to management of finances, rural and urban housing and the transport sector were other issues reportedly prompting the motion by lawmakers.

The impeachment request, signed by 24 lawmakers, was submitted to the Majlis presiding board in May.

Before the Tuesday session, 11 of the parliamentarians withdrew their signatures, citing satisfaction with the explanations provided by Akhoundi at the legislature's Development Commission.

Members of the parliamentary majority group, the Principlist Followers of Velayat Faction, also expressed opposition to the move.

Akhoundi holds a PhD in Political Economy, which he obtained from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2006. He served as minister of housing and urban development under former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from 1993 to 1997.

He was the third minister to face impeachment since 2013, when the Rouhani administration assumed office.

In June, legislators impeached Minister of Education Ali Asghar Fani, who was reinstated after securing a vote of confidence from lawmakers. However, former minister of science, research and technology Reza Faraji Dana failed to provide satisfactory explanations to lawmakers and was dismissed in August 2014.

The lawmakers introducing the motion who addressed the parliamentarians in its support before the voting denied any political or factional motive behind the move.

Lawmaker Hamid Rasaei questioned Akhoundi's record in the housing sector, particularly in connection with the large-scale low-cost Mehr Housing Scheme, introduced by Rouhani's predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ali Asghar Zare'ei criticized the minister for appointing "unqualified" people to some positions in his ministry.

He was also accused of lack of commitment to principles of the "resistance economy", a series of policies outlined by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to cut the country's heavy reliance on oil revenues and boost domestic production.

Mansour Arami, spokesperson for the Majlis Development Commission, and Mohammad Reza Bahonar, deputy Majlis speaker, spoke against the impeachment motion.

Bahonar said Akhoundi is one of the most "skilled, prudent, decisive and industrious ministers" ever serving the country.


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