Iran’s parliament has removed Economy Minister Masoud Karbasian in the latest blow to a government struggling with a deepening economic crisis. The move follows new US sanctions and a sharp fall in the value of the rial.
The country’s already weakened economy has been further damaged by the reimposition of sanctions by US President Donald Trump, which has caused the local currency to plunge.
Karbasian is the second cabinet minister to be sacked this month, following the impeachment of Labour Minister Ali Rabiei on August 8.
Critics say the government squandered the opportunities presented by the 2015 nuclear deal and have failed to tackle high rates of inflation and joblessness.
Major European firms, including France’s Total, Peugeot and Renault, and Germany’s Siemens and Daimler, have all announced their departure since the US announcement.
Rouhani’s conservative opponents — who long-opposed his outreach to the West and efforts to improve civil liberties — say the primary blame lies with government corruption and mismanagement.
“Inefficiency and lack of planning have nothing to do with sanctions,” said one lawmaker, Abbas Payizadeh, in a speech ahead of the vote.
“Wrong decisions have harmed the people and led to individuals looting public assets,” he added.
Rouhani, a political moderate, can still count on the support of a sizeable reformist bloc in parliament, but even some of its key figures have grown disillusioned.
“What have we done with this nation? We made them miserable and wretched,” said Elias Hazrati, of the reformist Hope faction in parliament.
“The middle class are moving towards poverty,” added Hazrati, who broke ranks to vote in favour of the impeachment.
Karbasian lost the vote of confidence, which was carried live on state radio, by 137 votes to 121, with two abstentions.
The outcome sees him stripped of his post with immediate effect, leaving Rouhani to pick a replacement.