“Impeachment has been Accepted and from this day Mr. Kordan cannot be functioning as the minister of interior. Majlis has expressed its lack of confidence.” With these sentences Dr. Ali Larijani the speaker of Iranian Parliament made it official that Mr. Kordan had lost his job after 90 days in office. Your correspondent does not want to exaggerate the significance of this event; however it was an important development, one that cannot be ignored.
Our story began when Mr. Kordan, seeking the approval of Majlis told MPs that he hold an honorary degree from Oxford, that prestigious eminent tower of academic traditions. After hearing his credentials and Mr. Ahmadinejad's enthusiastic support MPs went ahead and voted for Mr. Kordan. It did not end there.
Dr. Tavakoli a prominent conservative MP who is the Head of Majlis Research Center and runs Alef (http://www.alef.ir/) news website did not find Mr. Kordan’s answers to the questions about his degree satisfactory. He sent an inquiry to Oxford asking if they had granted Mr. Kordan a degree in the past. Oxford denied even hearing of a Mr. Kordan. Dr. Tavakoli’s website uploaded Oxford University’s letter. And school sent out a news release to the effect. The story now was picked up by the foreign press; Guardian, Washington Post and LA Times circulated the related stories.
While society, weblogs and media were filled with stories and jokes about this event, conservative faction and MPs were facing a serious question. Although many bureaucrats and officials claim degrees from schools, both domestic and foreign, neither of them ever did so in an official session of Majlis and none had been contradicted. This was an obvious breach of the values advocated by the conservatives. They had no other choice but to seek Mr. Kordan’s resignation.
Several conservative MPs joined Dr. Ahmad Tavakoli and Dr. Ali Motaharri, another conservative MP from Tehran whose father, Morteza Motaharri was the most prominent ideologue of Islamic revolution. They asked for Mr. Kordan’s resignation, he rebuffed them. They requested the President to fire him, and the President rebuffed them too. So impeachment was the only way.
Days leading to the impeachment witnessed some interesting events. Mr. Kordan accepted that his diploma could be a forgery but said that an individual who had claimed to be Oxford representative in Tehran had offered him the document on school’s behalf. That individual identity remains unknown. An aide to Mr. Kordan and President was caught offering 5 million Thomans to MPs for repairing Masjids (Mosques) in their constituencies. Instead of a receipt he had them sign a withdrawal from impeachment request. After being slapped by a fellow conservative He was banned from entering Majlis building.
The day of impeachment came, while Americans were electing a new president, Iranian MPs were firing the person in charge of holding elections. The outcome was celebrated by conservatives, moderates and reformers alike. The impeachment also pushed the cabinet to the edge of confidence. One more change in the cabinet would force President Ahmadinejad to ask for the vote of confidence for the government from Majlis, according to Iranian constitution; an opportunity that many of his critiques would welcome.
The hero of the hour is certainly Ahmad Tavakoli. Your correspondent has been a critique of Mr. Tavakoli's political views, which are conservative, and I am not a conservative by any stretch of the word, and his economic beliefs including his support of government’s role in the economy, yours truly advocate a free market and participating in the global markets. However it must be pointed out that he preformed his duties as a MP immaculately. He investigated Mr. Kordan’s credentials, provided evidence that contradicted them and acted upon hard evidence to challenge him. He was able to rally a group of MPs to impeach the minister and he gave president every opportunity to avoid a confrontation. Many including your correspondent believe that is the true function of any parliament. That is why democracy is efficient, that is why legislation must be independent of executive and that is why elections must be free.