The Majlis leadership does not want any such vote and says it is appealing to the signers to withdraw their signatures and stop the ouster effort.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenehi indicated some weeks ago that he did not approve of efforts to boot President Ahmadi-nejad out of office. His oppoition is likely to spike the effort. However, it is stunning 100 deputies have signed onto a call to confront the president knowing that Khamenehi did not favor it. That shows the extent of the animosity for the president.
Article 89 of the Constitution says that signatures from one-third of the Majlis deputies are required to summon the president before the body for questioning about his conduct. The article says the president must appear within one month after the one-third of the membership tables its summons. After that appearance, the members vote on a motion of no-confidence. If that is passed with a two-thirds majority, the action is notified to the Supreme Leader, who can then dismiss the president. The Majlis itself cannot dismiss a president.
Majlis officials said the summons was submitted Sunday and signed by about 100 deputies. The exact number and names of the signers have not been revealed. One-third of the Majlis membership comes to 97 deputies.
Deputy Hossain Sobhani-nia, a member of the Majlis Presiding Board, told the Fars news agency Tuesday, “The issue of questioning the president was reviewed and discussed in the Presiding Board. The Presiding Board’s view is to convince friends [meaning deputies] not to question the president.”
Sobhani-nia said board members will discuss the summons with signers. In other words, the leadership will try to convince enough members to withdraw their signatures. This is frequently done. Deputies have a propensity for signing documents put before them without apparently thinking through the consequences. When questioned by the leadership, many deputies pull back their signatures.
If the number of signers falls below 97, there will not be a no-confidence vote. But as long as 73 signers remain (one-fourth of the membership of 290), the president can still be summoned to answer questions in person. No president has ever been summoned before the Majlis for a vote of no-confidence or even to answer questions.
The summons that was tabled says the signers wish to question the president on three topics:
• The delay in setting up a Ministry of Sports and Youth a few weeks beyond the deadline set in the law approved by the Majlis. Ahmadi-nejad had opposed creation of the ministry, but finally gave in last month.
• The president’s procrastination in disbursing funds approved more than year ago to pay for further construction of the Tehran Metro. It is widely believed he did so to spite the Rafsanjani family since a Rafsanjani headed the Metro system. That Rafsanjani resigned a few weeks ago in frustration. It isn’t known if the withheld funds have been released since then.
• The Administration’s failure to properly implement cultural plans ratified by the Majlis. It isn’t clear what this refers to.
Strangely, the Majlis signers did not make an issue of the fact that Ahmadi-nejad has not published and is not carrying out about two dozen laws enacted by the Majlis and approved by the Council of Guardians. This has been a major issue for Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, and Khamenehi has even said publicly that the president must carry out all acts of the Majlis. (In Iran, the president has no veto power over legislation.)
The summons was initiated and organized by Deputy Ali Motahari, the son of Morteza Motahari, a very prominent revolutionary clergyman who was murdered a year after the revolution. Deputy Motahari has long been a strong critic of Ahmadi-nejad.
Khamenehi has reportedly told the Majlis leadership he does not want the harsh confrontation between the Majlis and the president to continue and opposes the impeachment of the president. Deputy Mohammad-Reza Bahonar last month spoke directly to that point. Bahonar said, “Our understanding is that the Leader would like the Administration to continue its work in peace until the end of its legal term [in August 2013] and that he would like the political life of the Administration to end naturally.”
Others have said Kha-menehi believes that ousting Ahmadi-nejad from office would reflect badly on the Islamic Republic and make it look unstable. Instability is something everyone wishes to avoid.