Iran's industry and roads ministers resign amid economic crisis fallout

#InsideIran

The two reportedly handed in their resignations more than month ago as lawmakers were preparing impeachment proceedings against them

Rumours of Shariatmadari's resignation first surfaced in mid-September but were quickly denied by the ministry (AFP)
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Sunday 21 October 2018 9:51 UTC
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Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has accepted the resignation of the embattled ministers of industry and roads, a statement on the presidential website said on Saturday.

The president thanked industry minister Mohammad Shariatmadari and roads minister Abbas Akhoundi's for their "selfless service" and "sincere efforts" during their tenures. The two reportedly handed in their resignations more than a month ago as lawmakers were preparing impeachment proceedings against them.

Reza Rahmani, current deputy industries minister, will take over for Shariatmadari and the current governor of Mazandaran, Mohammad Eslami, will become acting roads minister effective immediately, the website said.

Rouhani's labour and economy ministers were sacked by parliament in August over their handling of an economic crisis partly triggered by the withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpoisition of US sanctions.

Earlier this week, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the US's use of sanctions was "out of control," a day after Washington announced fresh moves against two Iranian banks and a string of other businesses it accused of having ties to a paramilitary group.

The US Treasury announced sanctions on the network of businesses it said were tied to the Basij Resistance Force, a group that the department said works with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The US also intends to reimpose wide-reaching sanctions against Iran on 4 November, including on the country's oil sector.

The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal said last month they were working on a special mechanism to maintain trade with Iran, including in oil, following the US withdrawal from the 2015 pact.

The European Union and Iran, along with Russia and China, said in a statement they were determined to "protect the freedom of their economic operators to pursue legitimate business with Iran".

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US sanctions 'out of control', Iran's foreign minister says

Rouhani himself was summoned to parliament to answer questions on weak economic growth and rising prices from lawmakers on 28 August, a first in his five years in power and only the second time for a sitting president.

Iran's economy has been dogged by joblessness and inflation, with the rial currency plummeting in value.

Rumours of Shariatmadari's resignation first surfaced in mid-September but were quickly denied by the ministry.

Akhoundi published his resignation letter dated 1 September on Saturday, pointing to a "difference of opinion" as the main cause.

Lawmakers were also ready to impeach education minister Mohammad Bathaei but called off the action on 2 September because of the upcoming school year.