Iran’s Parliament Impeaches Key Ahmadinejad Ally

Iran’s parliament impeached the head of the country’s police and security agencies on Tuesday after he admitted faking a degree from Oxford University, in a vote widely seen as a defeat for hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer

The dismissal of Interior Minister Ali Kordan was the first high-profile confrontation between the new parliament and Ahmadinejad. It was seen a vote of no-confidence in the president and a sign that the deeply unpopular leader may be losing favor even with his conservative allies.

Iranian Interior Minister Ali Kordan delivers a speech, prior ... 
Iranian Interior Minister Ali Kordan delivers a speech, prior to a vote by members of parliament to impeach him, during an open session of parliament, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. Iran’s parliament impeached the country’s interior minister for deception Tuesday in a vote widely seen as a defeat for hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Parliament’s no-confidence vote for Ali Kordan comes after he admitted he had a fake degree from Oxford University.(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

The interior minister in Iran is a powerful position, overseeing the police and security agencies, as well as organizing elections.

During Kordan’s confirmation debate, numerous lawmakers argued he was unqualified for the post, some claiming that his Oxford degree was a fake. Kordan was approved Aug. 5 by a relatively slim margin of around 160 of the 269 lawmakers present, a reflection of the concerns.

Kordan initially argued that his degree was real. The Interior Ministry put out a certificate, with an Oxford seal and dated June 2000, meant to prove its authenticity. It was riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes.

Oxford denied it had ever awarded an honorary doctorate of law to the minister, who then admitted the degree was fake.

Ahmadinejad defended Kordan, dismissing degrees in general as “torn paper” not necessary for serving the people.

The president was already under attack from both reformers and conservatives, who brought him to power but now complain he spends too much time on fiery anti-U.S. rhetoric rather than managing the country.

Middle-class Iranians, who have seen their standard of living fall, often speak scornfully of his economic naivete. In July, he predicted oil prices would never fall below $100 per barrel.

Oil prices, however, have plunged during the global financial crisis and hovered Tuesday around $63 a barrel. Tehran’s stock index last week plunged about 12 percent to its lowest close in years. And inflation is estimated at 27 percent or more.

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