Iran’s parliament removes finance minister from office

Published On: August 27, 2018 08:39 AM NPT By: Agencies

Aug 27: Iran’s Parliament voted on Sunday to remove the economics and finance minister, the state news media reported, dealing another blow to President Hassan Rouhani as the country faces high unemployment and inflation, as well as a weakened currency.

Critics of the ousted finance minister, Masoud Karbasian, said the government had failed to shore up the economy after President Trump reinstated sanctions on Iran. Lawmakers voted 137 to 121 to remove Mr. Karbasian, continuing a shake-up of the top managers of the Iranian economy; early this month, lawmakers voted to dismiss the labor minister, and Mr. Rouhani replaced the head of the central bank in July.

Iran’s currency, the rial, has lost half of its value since April, and the repercussions are being felt daily by ordinary Iranians.

The Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran this month after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, which Washington saw as inadequate for curbing Tehran’s activities in neighboring Middle East countries and denying it the means to make an atomic bomb. A second set of sanctions, targeting Iran’s oil industry, is due to take effect in November.

Mr. Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions has accelerated a capital flight from Iran that hastened the rial’s decline, unnerving Iranians who saw it as a warning of economic calamity.

Demonstrations across Iran began December — protesting the weak economy, strict Islamic rules, water shortages, religious disputes and local grievances — eventually spreading to more than 80 cities and towns and resulting in 25 deaths. Sporadic protests, led by truck drivers, farmers and merchants in Tehran’s bazaar, have continued regularly since, occasionally resulting in violent confrontations with security forces.

The commander of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Maj. Gen. Ali Jafari, said on Sunday that Iran was facing a “unique, complicated and sensitive” situation, with both external and internal threats to its security, the news agency Tasnim reported.

Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal has undermined Mr. Rouhani and emboldened his hard-line opponents, who opposed any compromises with the United States.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared to offer guarded criticism of Mr. Rouhani's opponents.

“There are some in the country who, instead of laying the groundwork for using the opportunities presented by the nuclear deal, chose a political fight,” the news agency ISNA quoted him as saying. “And this political fight led to despair and disappointment.”

Iran has sued the United States at the International Court of Justice to try to nullify the nuclear sanctions reimposed by Mr. Trump.

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