Iran parliament dismisses transport minister

Filed on February 1, 2011

TEHRAN - Iran's parliament on Tuesday voted to dismiss the country's transport minister, the first member of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cabinet to be impeached since his re-election in 2009.

Parliamentarians, who voted to remove Hamid Behbahani, accused him of failing to improve Iran's dismal air, rail and road safety record and lambasted him for mismanagement.

"147 of the 234 parliamentarians present voted to unseat the minister," said parliament speaker Ali Larijani, state radio broadcast live. A simple majority in the 294-seat assembly is enough to remove the minister from office.

The crash of an Iranian passenger plane with at least 105 people on board near the northwestern city of Urumiyeh in January mobilised parliamentarians to dismiss the minister.

His impeachment was part of a power struggle between Ahmadinejad and one of his key political rivals, parliament speaker Larijani who criticises the government for the failing economy, political analysts said.

Larijani criticised the president and his minister for not attending the session.

"The government has no right to ignore the impeachment session ... They violated the law by not attending at the parliament today," Larijani said.

Ahmadinejad's allies said the impeachment was politically motivated to weaken the president.

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