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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 October, 2004, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Iran's parliament sacks minister
Traffic, Tehran
Iran has one of the world's highest rates for traffic accidents
Iran's conservative-dominated parliament has voted to sack Transport Minister Ahmad Khorram.

MPs accused him of failing to improve Iran's air, rail and road safety.

Mr Khorram is the first member of President Mohammad Khatami's reformist Cabinet to be sacked since hardliners won a majority in February polls.

Before the vote, the parliament's speaker said "whatever the decision..., it does not mean that we do not want to work with this government".

Accidents up

From a total of 258 parliamentarians present at the session, 188 voted in favour of the motion - 58 voted in Mr Khorram's favour and nine abstained.

Conservative deputy, Ali Ahmadi, said in the current Iranian year, which began on 20 March, road accidents had already gone up by 24%.

Passengers from Dubai at Imam Khomeini airport after the only flight allowed in May
The new airport was closed after a single flight was allowed to land
"Last year 25,350 people died on the roads, that is 5,600 more than three years ago," he said.

"Between the [1979 Islamic] revolution and three years ago, we had 148 plane accidents with 780 dead. Over the last three years, we have had 86 accidents with 212 killed."

The impeachment motion - signed by about 116 deputies - mentions alleged corruption in the transport ministry and Mr Khorram's handling of Tehran's new international airport.

Mr Khorram was accused of "tarnishing the Islamic Republic of Iran's reputation" after he handed a $200m contract to a Turkish-Austrian consortium to build and run the airport.

The Iranian army closed the airport down in May - after only one flight had landed - saying its foreign ownership was a security concern.

Iran has one of the world's highest rates for traffic accidents.


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