TEHRAN, Feb. 19 (Press Shia Agency) – Parliament Sunday session has decided to impeach Abbas Akhundi, Minister of Road and Urban Planning.
The draft prepared by MPs who support impeachment included 13 points they believe are sufficient for an impeachment. On Sunday morning, Mr. Akhundi came to open session to respond to criticism of his conduct in the ministry. A total of 206 MPs participate in the session.
Parliament’s Hope Faction, opposed the impeachment from the onset and independents refrained from voicing a position on impeachment.
The points raised by impeachers include a wide range of issues from the plane crash to train collision in Semnan which provided the impeachers with enough arguments. “The railroad as a secure mode of transportation has experienced two incidents in the past two years; the causes are organizational and administrative neglect and not pure accident; the Tabriz-Mashhad railroad incident had been the issue of the past impeachment where the minister received warnings on technical problems in signaling instruments; however, such warnings were set aside, which was the cause for a second incident,” says the draft of the impeachment.
“Keeping in office retired personnel in positions as security directors while Ministry of Intelligence roundly opposed the practice and the same retired personnel had been engaged in illicit economic activities as government rentiers; the Minister in person has had many economic firms operating where a son of his has been involved in a number of Ministry’s contracts,” it reads. “Discontinuing Mehr Housing Scheme and introducing a new scheme, Community Housing Scheme has ruined the housing market; deals to purchase planes have been largely clandestine; no Parliament commission received a copy of the agreements.”
The draft also goes on to criticize Akhundi for his partisan practices where in the Ministry, he has allegedly established circles loyal to specific parties and where administrative processes had been only secondary to partisan activities; “transparency is missing from all contracts signed by third parties and Iran Airports Company (IAC) and poor supervision or no supervision at all has left the many economic activities of directors of the IAC; the investigation into the crash incident of Sepahan A140 en route from Tehran to Tabas on Aug 10 2014 had been abandoned; a total of 4 aerial and railroad incidents should be responded for; a bus in Fars province killed conscription soldiers in an incident yet not fully addressed; in all these incidents, a global convention is that a director is dismissed or he should have resigned; however, in Antonov case, the director received lavish support by the minister and he was discouraged from resigning,” says the draft.
Among the MPs speaking for impeachment was Mohammad Esmail Saeidi of Tabriz constituency; “a system designated by the minister as ‘zero error,’ killed 48 people in Tabriz-Mashhad incident; no light has been shed into the darker corners of the incident,” he said. “Billions of public money had been invested in the system, yet it fails to address an incident as a serious public demand.”
Other MPs spoke also for the impeachment with a focus on Tabriz-Mashhad railroad incident; MPs from Arak and Mehriz and Bafgh believe that Akhundi should have resigned as minister for the neglect under his administration; Nader Ghazipour of Urmia constituency said that impeachment was neither political nor had done by MPs from specific constituencies; his major criticism was against keeping retired personnel in active positions in the ministry which violated the law; “now hundreds of these retired personnel have positions and responsibilities in the ministry,” he objected. “Producing wealth would be welcomed only when you do not have a public position as minister while currently many of your companies use lucrative government privileged to produce wealth; a list of your properties should be handed down to the Judiciary as law demands,” Ghazipour emphasized, who believed a sort of cronyism has been rampant in the ministry where individuals associated with minister’s economic firms also act as personnel in the ministry.
Ghazipour also raised the case of Mehr Housing Scheme which was abandoned by Akhundi’s ministry and where the ministry had received court verdict that demanded that the ministry pay a staggering debt of $660mn, of which $315mn had been accrued upon Mehr Housing Scheme. He also told Parliament a number of illicit activities of the minister’s associates and family members.
Yet in the same vein, Hassanali Shahriari of Zahedan constituency criticized the minister for lack of highways in Sistan and Baluchistan province where traffic accidents had contributed to the number of the hospitalized people the most; “with Chabahar as a major transit hub, where 6 million tons of goods are delivered, and 2,000 trucks traverse the province, yet a single kilometer of highway is missing in the province; the public would only suffer from poverty, while their province helps transport the wealth and luxury goods to more privileged provinces,” he said.
In response, Abbas Akhundi extended apologies to all killed in all incidents raised by the MPs and also thanked all MPs who worked for the impeachment by strictly studying the Ministry’s activities and provided criticism and corrections; “the infrastructures should be addressed seriously to prevent similar incidents and administrative processes should be reviewed to improve the response rate in emergency conditions,” he briefly said.
Outside the Parliament and while impeachment is underway, protestors carry banners criticizing the abandoning of Mehr Housing Scheme and other issues which hit larger parts of the population.