Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has appeared in parliament for an unprecedented grilling by lawmakers dissatisfied with his performance, Iranian media has reported.
Ahmadinejad was accompanied by a number of cabinet ministers to the special session, Fars news agency reported, after being summoned last month by a group of hostile MPs, according to Reuters.
Ahmadinejad gave a defiant and at times mocking defense of his economic and political management during the interrogation.
“So far no major violation has been proved against my government.... If you rate us at less than 100 percent, it would be unfair and cowardice,” Ahmadinejad told lawmakers at the end of a near-hour long reply broadcast on state radio, AFP reported.
It was the first time an Iranian president has been summoned before parliament to answer questions about his rule since the founding of the Islamic republic in 1979.
Ahmadinejad rejected attempts to embarrass him with questions focusing on Iran’s runaway inflation, his perceived weakened loyalty to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his arguments to loosen up Islamic rules on dress for women and gender relations.
The interrogation, however, highlighted Ahmadinejad’s slipping fortunes as he sees out the end of his second and final mandate, which is to end next year.
Khamenei has over the past year curbed Ahmadinejad in his ambitions to expand power and influence, overruling him when he tried to sack his intelligence minister in 2011 and keeping him on a tight leash on policy decisions.
Elections early this month reduced the number of Ahmadinejad supporters in the 290-seat parliament, leaving the president to face a chamber in the majority intent on further curtailing his authority.