TEHRAN — Iran’s parliament voted Sunday to impeach the country’s labor minister, the ninth minister from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s cabinet to be dismissed during the president’s second term in office.
The proceedings Sunday represent a dramatic escalation in the long-standing power struggle between Ahmadinejad and the speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani.
In Sunday’s vote, 192 of 272 parliament members voted in favor of impeaching Labor Minister Abdul-Reza Sheikholeslami over his decision to make Iran’s former general prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, the head of the country’s social security fund. The move, the articles of impeachment said, was “against the expediency of the country, unlawful and against the interests of 33 million workers under this fund.”
Mortazavi was removed from the judiciary over his alleged role in the deaths of protesters held in custody after Ahmadinejad’s disputed 2009 reelection.
The impeachment of Sheikholeslami puts the Ahmadinejad government dangerously close to forcing a vote of approval for the entire cabinet, which would almost certainly result in the removal of the president’s preferred ministers. Iran’s constitution states that if a majority of cabinet ministers are removed during a president’s term, the parliament must vote to reapprove the entire cabinet.