Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Tensions in Iran's Parliament Following Corruption Accusations

Tensions in Iran's Parliament Following Corruption Accusations

Monday, 18 December, 2017 - 12:30
Iranian MPs attend a parliament session in Tehran. (AFP)

Arguments rose in the Iranian parliament following a statement by Tehran MP Mahmoud Sadeghi on corruption in the government, parliament and judiciary system where he said parliamentarians won as a result of the Guardian Council and "not the votes of the people."

Sadeghi was hinting that the council disqualified certain candidates for the elections, which was challenged by conservative MPs.

“By disqualifying merited candidates, the Guardian Council has not allowed figures brave enough to fight corruption to have a seat in the parliament,” he said.

Sadeghi, a member of reformist Amal bloc, spoke about the most important challenges facing the Iranian regime, mainly corruption, where he underlined the importance of fighting corruption in parliament, the government and the judiciary.

This comes less than a week after President Hassan Rouhani submitted the new budget proposal of $104 billion. Parliament has up to 40 days to study and vote on the draft.

Rouhani's budget proposal received varied reactions. Details of it were published and they indicated that the president had abandoned his election promises, with the government planning to end an aid program between 30 million and 40 million riyals.

“If we really want to combat corruption, we should start right here among ourselves. All ruling bodies of the country, including the legislative, judicial and the executive powers, need an iron will to fight corruption," Sadeghi said, while criticizing lack of transparency.

The MP added that the newly proposed budget bill was ambiguous.

Addressing his fellow legislators, he said the parliament was "the essence of the Guardian Council’s virtues" and not that of the nation.

Several media outlets reported that Sadeghi's speech on corruption was met with criticism from other lawmakers, who accused him of "insulting" the status of parliament.

MP Ali Adyani Rad, responded to Sadeghi by saying: “If the parliament is really the essence of the Guardian Council’s virtues, then, one should ask whether your presence is legitimate. Based on Islamic laws, do you even have the right to vote or make comments?”

As for the "tension" during the parliament's session, Iranian agencies reported that it started when Deputy Speaker Ali Motahari switched off the microphone of MP Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, spokesman National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, which prompted Hosseini to shout in opposition of Sadeghi's statements.

“If somebody says MPs are the essence of the Guardian Council’s virtues, it [explicitly] means that the members of the parliament are not elected by the people," Hosseini claimed.

After his microphone was switched off, Hosseini rushed to the speaker's podium and demanded time to continue his comments. He was told to sit down and several reformist MPs stepped in, which was followed by an altercation with conservative legislators.

Rouhani faces accusations from his moderate and reformist allies, who are accusing him of not fulfilling his campaign promises and migrating towards the fundamentalist camp. Rouhani continues to deliver promises and requesting more time to meeting his pledges on domestic freedoms, improving the economic situation and working on Iran's foreign policy.

The announcement of the new budget coincided a week after the 100 days of Rouhani's election for a second term. Activists launched on social network a "Nademoun" campaign expressing remorse for voting for him against his conservative opponents in the last presidential election.

A number of political, artistic and sports figures also expressed their remorse for calling voters to participate in the elections.

Former Iranian football star Ali Karimi apologized on his Instagram account for supporting the president because, as he said: "I thought he could help."

He added: “If only we could go back #ahmedinejad."

Political activist and reformist Abbas Abdi stated: "Those who say they regret participating in elections do not understand politics."

Reformist newspaper Bahar highlighted criticism against Rouhani over the past few days, saying: "Several well-known Iranian figures expressed their remorse [for voting] and retracting their endorsement for Rouhani, which is a reason the president's opponents celebrate."

Editor Picks