The Iranian parliament dismissed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s transportation minister on Tuesday in response to several fatal plane crashes in the country.
Hamid Behbahani was stripped of his office after he failed to attend his impeachment, Iranian media report.
The impeachment vote against Behbahani passed 147 to 78 with nine abstentions. Behbahani’s critics cited repeated plane crashes, unprofessional public statements about the accidents, mismanagement of the ministry’s resources and budget, and the country’s high death toll from road accidents.
All 24 lawmakers signed the impeachment letter; however, Ahmadinejad’s parliamentary deputy later wrote to Ali Larijani, the speaker of the house, to indicate that 13 MPs had decided to withdraw their names, voiding the impeachment.
Despite efforts by the president’s office, the impeachment session was carried out today. The speaker denounced Ahmadinejad’s failure to appear in the house along with his minister, calling it a violation of procedure.
“That the president would order his minister not to attend this parliamentary session is the worst disrespect to the house,” said Ahmad Tavakoli, a conservative MP. “The parliament will, however, continue with its business according to the rules.”
Behbahani’s dismissal highlights the rift between Ahmadienjad and parliament, which has grown over the past months as lawmakers repeatedly accused Ahmadinejad of overstepping his powers and denying parliament its rightful place in monitoring government actions.