Iran MPs vote to remove economy minister amid financial crisis

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image source, AFP
image caption, Masoud Karbasian sought to defend himself in parliament, but to no avail

Iran's parliament has voted to remove the economy minister from office as the country battles an economic crisis.

Masoud Karbasian was targeted by a no-confidence vote over problems in the banking system, tax regulation and his failure to fix the economy.

The move comes three weeks after Labour Minister Ali Rabiei was ousted in a similar process.

President Hassan Rouhani's government has struggled to control rising prices and the falling value of the currency.

The re-imposition of sanctions by the US after its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal has exacerbated the crisis.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the US of launching a "psychological war against Iran and its business partners", Tasnim news agency reported.

Mr Karbasian lost the vote of confidence by 137 votes to 121 with two abstentions. The result was broadcast live on state radio.

President Rouhani, a political moderate, is facing criticism from hardliners but also from within the reformist bloc that supports his government.

Elias Hazrati, of the reformist Hope faction, was among those who broke ranks to vote for Mr Karbasian's removal.

He accused the government of failing to plan for the full impact of sanctions.

"We haven't been prepared and we are not prepared now. The only person we could get our hands on was the economy minister. Otherwise, the president should have been impeached," he said in comments reported by AFP news agency.

media caption, What is the Iran nuclear deal?

In June, traders at Tehran's Grand Bazaar held a major protest against rising prices and the plummeting value of the rial.

Riot police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators who were marching towards parliament.

It was the biggest protest in the capital since 2012, when international sanctions related to Iran's nuclear activities were crippling its economy.

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