Iran MPs Reject Rouhani Answers On Economic Woes

LONDON — Iran’s parliament voted its dissatisfaction with President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday after grilling him over the deteriorating economy.

It was the first time Rouhani had been summoned by parliament in his five years in power, and MPs de­manded answers on unemployment, rising prices and the sharp deprecia­tion of the rial, which has lost more than half of its value since April.

The lawmakers, who have al­ready impeached his labour and economy ministers this month, were unimpressed.

In votes at the end of the session, they expressed dissatisfaction with Rouhani’s responses to four of their five questions on the economy.

Rouhani trod a difficult line, seeking to acknowledge the prob­lems facing ordinary Iranians with­out admitting to a full-blown crisis.

“It should not be said we are facing a crisis. There is no crisis. If we say there is, it will become a problem for society and then a threat,” he told parliament.

Under parliamentary rules, the issues on which lawmakers ex­pressed dissatisfaction will now be referred to the judiciary for review.

As usual, Rouhani offered no concrete policy proposals, instead saying repeatedly that the answer lay in showing the people that the es­tablishment was united.

“You may talk about employ­ment, foreign currency, recession, smuggling… I think the problem is in people’s view of the future,” he said.

“The people are not afraid of the United States, they are afraid of our disagreements. If the people see we are united, they will realise the prob­lems will be resolved.”

But Rouhani’s government — which pushed a ‘moderate’ line of improved relations with the West — has been badly weakened by Wash­ington’s May decision to withdraw from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers and reimpose sanctions.

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