Iran lawmakers target two Ahmadinejad ministers

TEHRAN Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:06am EDT

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's parliament threatened on Sunday to impeach two of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's ministers, in a new wave of pressure against the president who is under attack from lawmakers.

Unhappy about the government's handling of a $2.6 billion bank fraud and other policy failings, enough parliamentarians signed motions to start impeachment proceedings against Economy Minister Shamseddin Hosseini and Energy Minister Majid Namjou, news agencies reported.

"Twenty-eight lawmakers have signed for the impeachment of the economy minister for violating the law and appointing unqualified people to important positions," the ILNA news agency quoted lawmaker Omidvar Rezaei as saying.

Fifty-one members signed the motion against Namjou -- who oversees the electricity and water networks but is not in charge of the vitally important oil sector.

Namjou survived an impeachment motion in March by just one vote. The semi-official Fars news agency reported one lawmaker as saying he was guilty of "weak performance" and his ministry had failed to pay debts to contractors and power plants.

The impeachment moves show the conservative-dominated parliament is determined to keep up pressure on Ahmadinejad who many hardliners accuse of being in the thrall of a "deviant current" of advisers seeking to undermine the authority of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In June some 100 lawmakers signed an impeachment motion against Ahmadinejad but parliament's presiding board has held back from proceeding with the complaint.

Analysts say the reluctance is probably due to influence from Khamenei who may be happy to have a weakened Ahmadinejad but does not want the political upheaval of him leaving office with less than two years of his term left.

One lawmaker, veteran Ahmadinejad critic Ali Motahari, has submitted his resignation over parliament's refusal to follow through with its action against the president.

(Writing by Mitra Amiri; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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