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TEHRAN: Iran’s parliament voted in an impeachment session on Sunday to remove the industry minister amid soaring prices as the Islamic republic’s economy reels under the pressure of international sanctions.

Reza Fatemi Amin failed to garner enough support in a vote of confidence that saw 162 MPs vote in favour of his removal and 102 against.

It was the second time he had faced such a vote in parliament over the same issues, after securing 182 votes in a November majority vote that meant he stayed in the post.

A major factor in the new impeachment was the rising price of domestically manufactured vehicles after foreign imports dried up because of sanctions over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Last year the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in major policies, criticised the high prices and low quality of home-made products including cars.

Sunday’s vote came with the economy battered by Western sanctions, rampant inflation and record depreciation of the rial against the dollar since 2018 when then president Donald Trump withdrew the US from a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran and reimposed biting sanctions.

Defending the minister ahead of the vote, President Ebrahim Raisi had urged “stability in the management of this ministry”.

And Fatemi Amin himself argued: “The automobile industry is based on assembly and domestication, so it has problems with the ups and downs of sanctions.”

But MP Lotfollah Siahkali accused the minister of reporting wrong numbers to the president about growth in the sector.

“If there is growth, why don’t we see it in people’s lives?” he asked, adding that the ministry should leave the auto industry to the private sector.

A simple majority in parliament is all that is required for such a vote to go through.

Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf announced the results of the vote during a session broadcast live on state television.

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