* Parliamentary summons is second in less than a year
* Parliament partly blames him for economic crisis
* Economic pressure has worsened political divisions
By Yeganeh Torbati
DUBAI, Nov 4 Iran's parliament on Sunday told
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad he must appear before the assembly
within a month to explain his economic policies at a time of
crisis, his second such summons in less than a year.
Ahmadinejad's conservative rivals in the 290-seat assembly
have harshly criticised his handling of an economic crisis that
they blame as much on his mismanagement as on Western sanctions
aimed at derailing Iran's disputed nuclear programme.
Economic problems have seen the Iranian rial plummet and oil
exports dwindle, exacerbating divisions within Iran's
factionalised political system, despite calls from Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for officials to stop bickering.
Last week, Khamenei renewed his demands for unity, saying
public infighting amounted to a betrayal of the country.
But the stern warning from Iran's most powerful leader has
not stopped lawmakers hostile to Ahmadinejad from pressing ahead
with a plan to question him publicly for a second time.
On Sunday, according to a statement read in Parliament and
printed by the parliamentary news agency, legislators said they
planned to question Ahmadinejad on his administration's economic
Questions would focus on its response to the rial's
fluctuations and what they said was the mistaken allocation of
limited government-subsidised dollars, including for the import
of thousands of foreign cars.
The petition was signed by 77 lawmakers, Iranian news
agencies reported, and will be delivered to the president on
Ahmadinejad has one month to answer parliament's questions.
If he ignores the summons or attends the session but fails to
convince his questioners, parliament could try to impeach him.
By law, Ahmadinejad is not allowed to run in a June
presidential election, but there has been speculation he will
try to extend his influence by backing a favoured candidate. The
public questioning could be an attempt by rivals to weaken his
standing ahead of the vote.
Ahmadinejad has indicated he will use any public questioning
to reveal "unspoken" facts that he has until now kept secret,
Iranian legislator Hossein Ali Haji Deligani told the Mehr news
agency in October.
Deligani said that in a meeting with parliamentarians
"Ahmadinejad was not at all worried or concerned about a public
questioning of the president, and announced, 'I see the
questioning of the president as an opportunity to state the
unspoken in parliament,'" according to Mehr.
In March, Ahmadinejad became the first president in the
history of the Islamic Republic to be called before the
During an hour-long session, he responded in a confident and
flippant tone at times to questions about his economic record
and his allegiance to Khamenei.
In recent weeks, he has fired back at the judiciary and
legislature, bringing into full public view a feud between
himself and the powerful Larijani brothers, who include Ali, the
parliament speaker, and Sadeq, the judiciary chief.
In a letter to Sadeq Larijani published in October,
Ahmadinejad said the judiciary had unjustly imprisoned his top
press aide and that it was acting outside the bounds of Iran's