Iran's Parliament Questions President Ahmadinejad

Iran's Parliament Questions President Ahmadinejad
Iran's parliament grilled President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today over a long list of accusations, including that he mismanaged the nation's economy and defied the authority of the country's supreme leader.

Ahmadinejad is the first president in the country's history to be hauled before the Iranian parliament, a serious blow to his standing in a conflict pitting him against lawmakers and the country's powerful clerical establishment.

Iran's constitution gives parliament the legal right to question the president, but the body had never before taken a step that undermined Ahmadinejad's prestige and could set the stage for his subsequent impeachment should lawmakers determine his answers were unsatisfactory.

Ahmadinejad sniped back defiantly at his questioners, displaying some of the populist touch that has won him a mass following despite his strained ties with clerical leaders.

The summons follows a long-awaited petition by a group of parliamentarians for a review of policy decisions by Ahmadinejad, who has come under increasing attacks in recent months from the same hard-liners who brought him to power.

Conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari, a prominent opponent of the president, read out a series of 10 questions to Ahmadinejad in an open session of parliament broadcast live on state radio.

Some of the most hard-hitting focused on Ahmadinejad's alleged defiance of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all matters of state, over the choice of intelligence chief.

Ahmadinejad resisted for 11 days an order from Khamenei to reinstate intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi, who had been sacked by the president in April 2011.

Ahmadinejad flatly denied that he challenged Khamenei.

The president, who appeared in parliament accompanied by eight senior Cabinet members, was also asked about a dramatic hike in prices and his failure to provide a budget to Tehran's subway system.
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