Iranian parliament votes to keep 2 ministers in their jobs

Iranian Labor Minister Ali Rabiei walks to the podium during his parliament impeachment hearing, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Lawmakers on Tuesday voted to retain Rabiei after a hearing on his alleged mismanagement of unemployment and other government enterprises. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday voted in favor of keeping the country's ministers of labor and transportation despite allegations of mismanagement by both government officials.

The voting was seen as part of the factional push and pull between hard-liners in parliament and moderate President Hassan Rouhani's administration.

At a morning session, Labor Minister Ali Rabiei, whose opponents had blamed him for unemployment rising to about 12 percent, narrowly managed to keep his job after lawmakers in the 290-seat chamber failed to produce enough votes to fire him.

State TV reported that out of 253 lawmakers present at the session, 124 voted to keep Rabiei while 126 voted to fire him and two abstained. One vote was made void because it was late.

Under procedural regulations, abstentions in parliament are counted as an in-favor vote, hence Rabiei kept his post.

Lawmakers had also criticized Rabiei for the collision of a tanker that burned and sank off the coast of China, killing 30 sailors in January. The Labor Ministry manages some 60 percent of the tanker company.

His defenders, however, said not all the accusations were directly related to his ministry.

In the afternoon session, lawmakers decided 152-92 votes in favor of keeping Transportation Minister Abbas Akhoundi, who has been blamed for high death rates in traffic accidents in Iran.

Akhoudi's opponents have alleged that his mismanagement contributed to the plane crash last month in southern Iran of an ATR-72, an Iranian twin-engine turboprop used for short regional flights. All 65 people onboard were killed in what was the latest fatal aviation disaster for Iran.

Akhoudi's defenders put the blame for the crash on Iran's outdated fleet and years of Western sanctions over Tehran's contested nuclear program under which Iran was barred from buying necessary plane parts.

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