An Iranian Parliament (Majles) committee says some 700,000 Iranians have signed a petition demanding former President Hassan Rouhani to be put on trial.

Hassan Shojaee Aliabadi the chairman of the Article 90 Committee of the Majles told Mehr news agency on Saturday, May 30, that people have repeatedly called on the committee to make sure that Rouhani would be put on trial as soon as possible. Article 90 was established many years ago to hear complaints from citizens.

The moderate news website Rouydad24 wrote: "This comes while the same parliament believes that the people's views are not important about other matters including their opposition to a bill that calls for restricting the access to social media."

The report pointed out that Lawmaker Morteza Aqa-Tehrani, a member of the ultraconservative Paydari Party has said: "Even a million signatures on a petition cannot stop the bill to restrict Internet access."

The campaign to put Rouhani on trial "as the man responsible for the country's economic problems" was launched during his presidency after former Central Bank Governor Valiollah Seif (pronounced Sayf) was sentenced to 10 years in jail on charges of manipulating the foreign exchange market. The verdict against Seif was later revoked, but the call to put Rouhani on trial continued with new accusations. Members of the current hardliner parliament have charged that Rouhani's "inefficiency" led to major economic problems for Iran.

Hardliner members of Iran's parliament. July 12, 2020

The new calls for Rouhani's trial come as the country's economic problems have seriously worsened during the 10 months conservative Ebrahim Raisi has been president. The move could be his supporters' plan to blame Rouhani for the problems Raisi and his economic team have not been able to solve.

Another aspect of the issue is Iran’s stalled nuclear talks with the United States and continuing sanctions. The only person in Iran who can authorize a new agreement is Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whom many see as the one who is ultimately responsible for the economic crisis and inflation topping 40 percent.

During the past months nearly all prices in Iran have redoubled while Raisi ands his government have failed to control inflation. Iranian journalist Ebrahim Alizade, who is the editor of Tejarat News website, wrote in a 29 April Tweet: "Today, on the same day that President Ebrahim Raisi reassured the nation that he is constantly thinking of controlling the markets…prices of meat and car parts have gone up and the price of detergents is going to increase next week."

Despite rising prices, the Raisi administration has been constantly blaming the former government rather than trying to offer a solution. That is why economic observers believe Raisi's hardliner supporters are buying time by pursuing the idea of putting Rouhani on trial. However, even some of Raisi’s supporters criticize the government for blaming its predecessors.

Moreover, there is no indication that Article 90 Committee chairman’s remarks are true. A few days ago, some government officials were adamant that legal action has been taken against former vice president Es'haq Jahangiri, former Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh and former Housing Minister Abbas Akhundi for being responsible for the economic crisis. But it was soon revealed that the claim was false.

There has been talk of a debate between Raisi and Rouhani about the state of the economy.

Rouhani is not likely to agree to take part in any debate with Raisi, but if such a debate ever takes place, he proved during the 2017 election campaigns as Raisi's rival that he is capable on unabashedly attacking Raisi and leaving him speechless, particularly as Rouhani is an intrepid speaker while Raisi can is prone to make blunders.

IITV News (24) - DC
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