Monday, 20 December 2010

Mottaki says dismissal “un-Islamic” and “offensive”

Former Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, has called his sacking “un-Islamic” and “offensive.” Mottaki who was fired, by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while on an official state visit to Senegal, said he had not received warning about his impending removal from office.

Ahmadinejad's office has not released a statement regarding the sacking, but speculations have emerged that the dismissal is indicative of a power struggle in the government. Upon news of the dismissal several senior Iranian officials voiced criticism over Ahmadinejad decision. Since then, the Iranian parliament speaker and close ally of Mottaki, Ali Larijani, told the parliament: "The right way was that the change should have happened with prudence and observing dignity and not during the visit."

Speaking to the Mehr news agency, Mottaki said that the way his dismissal was handled was “outside the practices of politics.” He also said that he was not informed of the “appointment of a new person within 24 hours of my departure for the mission."

On Saturday 18th December, the foreign office held a function to officially introduce his replacement, nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi, even though the event was also supposed to be a farewell ceremony for Mottaki. Some senior officials, close to Ahmadinejad, have said that Mottaki was informed of his impending dismissal before travelling to Sengal.

Ahmadinejad and Mottaki have a long history of mutual distrust and while the president has managed to eject a critic from close quarters, some believe that the move may cause problems in a parliament increasingly disenchanted with the presidency.

The news of Mottaki's comments comes amid reports that Iran has cut the country's fuel and food subsidies, which means a four-fold increase in the price of petrol and reduced subsidies for basic rations such as bread. The initiative took effect on Sunday 19th December, with plans for subsidies to be suspended permanently within the next five years.

Under the initiative, every car will get 60 litres of fuel per month at a subsidised price of 40 cents per litre, up from 10 cents per litre. The Islamic republic said that it pays out in excess of $100 billion in subsidies each year, with bread subsidies accounting for another $4 billion annually.

Some world economists fear that an increase in prices will also be applied to domestic amenities such as water, electricity, and other consumables such as flour and thus increase inflation already estimated at 20 per cent.

Iran's subsidy initiative restructure is said to be part of the government's plant to decrease domestic demand for fuel, thereby making the country more fuel-efficient and prosperous from its natural resources.

Sources: BBC News, CNN, The Washington Post, Trend, Press TV

For more news and expert analysis about Iran, please see Iran Strategic Focus.

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