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Iran's Parliament Summons Rohani Over Economic Woes


Iranian President Hassan Rohani addresses the parliament in Tehran in August 2017.

Iranian lawmakers have given President Hassan Rohani one month to appear before parliament to answer questions amid growing public discontent over the country's deepening economic difficulties.

Lawmakers want to question Rohani on topics including weak economic growth, rising unemployment, and the dramatic decline of the national currency, the rial, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported on August 1.

They also want the president to explain why, after more than two years after signing the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, Iranian banks only have limited access to global financial services.

Rohani has faced a growing backlash since the United States pulled out of the nuclear deal in May and vowed to reimpose sanctions against Iran that were lifted as part of the accord, accelerating the drop of the rial.

On July 31, pictures and videos posted on social networks appeared to show hundreds of demonstrators rallying in several Iranian cities, including Isfahan and Karaj, in protest against high inflation caused in part by the weak rial.

There were also reports of a strike by shoppers and businesses in the Shapur area of Isfahan.

Social-media posts suggested that some protests were continuing on August 1, including in Isfahan where police reportedly used tear gas and paintball bullets against the demonstrators.

In a letter to Rohani, nearly 200 lawmakers called for a "maximum shake-up" in the government days after the rial plummeted to a new record low of 122,000 to the dollar in black-market trading.

Rohani's administration has already replaced the Central Bank governor and taken other measures to shore up the currency.

The rapid decline in its value sparked street protests in Tehran last month.

Earlier this year, a number of protests broke out in Iran over issued that included water shortage, power cuts, and corruption.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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