Fired Minister Angrily Slams Ahmadinejad

Wednesday, 23 Apr 2008 09:48 AM

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's economy minister stepped down on Tuesday and immediately launched a withering attack on his former boss, accusing him of being preoccupied with "peripheral" issues.

The replacement of Davoud Danesh Jaafari by the head of the government's economic commission, Hossein Samsami, at the economy and finance ministry is just the latest change to the oft-reshuffled Ahmadinejad cabinet.

Rather than the customary polite address of thanks, Danesh Jaafari used his farewell ceremony to deliver a speech whose angry and explicit criticism of the president had until now been almost unknown in Iranian politics.

"During my time, there was no positive attitude towards previous experiences or experienced people and there was no plan for the future," he said in the speech quoted by the Fars news agency.

"Peripheral issues which were not of dire importance to the nation were given priority.

"For example, changing the nation's time took months of our time," he complained.

The government had scrapped daylight saving time for a year only to have to back down after parliament passed a bill forcing the cabinet to resume the time change.

Ahmadinejad has been criticised by moderates for pumping excessive liquidity into the economy to fund infrastructure projects, causing huge money supply growth and triggering Iran's current inflation of around 18 percent.

Danesh Jaafari angrily denounced suggestions by the government that money supply growth has little effect on inflation -- which contradicts conventional economic wisdom.

"Most of the scientific economic concepts like the effect of liquidity on inflation were put in question," he said.

Criticism of the president has been mounting in recent weeks, amid clear signs the country's political elite are gearing up for presidential elections in 2009 where Ahmadinejad is expected to seek a second term.

Danesh Jaafari also accused the president of making baseless allegations in a speech last week in the clerical city of Qom, where Ahmadinejad accused his opponents of forming an economic and political mafia.

"In the recent speech in Qom, it was evident that inexpert reports were used that had not been checked.

"In the cabinet meeting, I told the president that this kind of talk will hurt the nation."

He slammed the presidency's inspection office -- which is run by his bother Davoud Ahmadinejad and compiles information such as that used for the Qom speech -- for being run by incompetent staff.

"Some have infiltrated the presidency inspection office who were either dissatisfied people or who were not worthy of the post they got," he said.

"For example the deputy in charge of the economy affairs of the body is a veterinarian and he does not know much about economy," he added.

Bizarrely, Danesh Jaafari has been appointed the president's advisor for economic affairs, state media reported.

In addition to Danesh Jaafari, six ministers have been fired or resigned since Ahmadinejad took office.

The head of the management and planning organisations and a central bank chief -- who both have seats in the cabinet -- have also departed. Another minister died while in office.

The government has also said that Interior Minister Mostafa Pour Mohammadi is to resign although there has been considerable confusion over when he will be replaced with Iran preparing for run-off parliamentary polls on Friday.

"The change in the interior ministry will be definite after the second round of the elections. We will try to make sure it has no effect on the organising of the elections," said Deputy Interior Minister Ali Reza Afshar.

© 2008 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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