© The Financial Times Ltd 2015 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
November 21, 2012 3:09 pm
Iran’s supreme leader has intervened in the growing power struggle between the legislature and the president, warning that the infighting was “what the [foreign] enemy seeks”.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say in all state affairs and sometimes acts as an arbitrator, urged the parliament on Wednesday not to summon Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the president, for questioning over the economic crisis. It was a clear effort to ease political infighting as Iran grapples with international sanctions over its nuclear programme.
Iran’s parliamentarians earlier this month summoned the president for the second time in less than a year after the value of the national currency, the rial, fell 40 per cent, mainly because of US and EU sanctions on banking and the oil industry. They wanted to question Mr Ahmadi-Nejad over what they say was his delay in curbing currency fluctuations in September and October, and for allowing the import of luxury cars and neglecting domestic wheat production.
“The two sides may be emotional . . . but all officials need to be calm . . . and people also demand calm,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a public meeting with voluntary forces of the elite Revolutionary Guards. “The cessation of this issue shows that both the legislature and the executive respect unity and stability,” he added.
The 290-seat parliament, dominated by anti-Ahmadi-Nejad factions, immediately released a statement saying that it accepted the supreme leader’s order.
The power struggle between pro- and anti-president forces has been mounting as Iran’s fundamentalists gear up for presidential elections next June, and Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s appearance in parliament could have paved the way for his potential impeachment.
Mr Ahmadi-Nejad is banned by the constitution from running for a third term but political observers believe he has been seeking to have a close ally succeed him in efforts to retain his influence.
Although Ayatollah Khamenei is believed to oppose to the president’s attempt to influence the choice of successor, the supreme leader is keen to maintain stability.
The president had expressed readiness to appear before the parliament and answer questions on his alleged economic mismanagement. He was rumoured to have been preparing to blame international sanctions for the country’s economic problems – a taboo for other leaders who refuse to acknowledge the impact of sanctions in an effort to maintain public support for the nuclear programme.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.