RFL/RE – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has criticized President Hassan Rohani for saying his rapprochement policy toward the West had caused the threat of war to fade.
“Some say since we took office the shadow of war has faded away. This is not correct,” Khamenei said on April 30.
“It’s been people’s presence in the political scene that has removed the shadow of war from the country,” he said during a meeting with workers from across the country on the eve of International Workers’ Day.
Khamenei’s comments come amid Iran’s presidential election campaign in which pragmatist Rohani is seeking a second term.
Rouhani championed in 2015 a landmark deal in which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international sanctions.
A standoff between Rohani and Khamenei’s allies, who criticized the nuclear deal, has intensified in recent months ahead of the May 19 election.
Hard-liners criticize Rohani’s economic record, saying rapprochement toward the West and nuclear concessions had not yet yielded economic benefits for Iran.
In a televised debate on April 29, Rohani warned Iranians that a vote for his hard-line rivals could bring greater authoritarianism to the country.
“Iranians will prove to the world at the May 19 election that the era of violence, extremism, and pressures in our country is over and Iran is pursuing the path of reason,” he said.
Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric and close Khamenei ally, is considered Rohani’s main election rival, along with Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.
Raisi joined those who have attacked Rohani over the state of the country’s economy when he criticized the president on this issue during a rally in a packed Tehran stadium on April 29.
“Today, 30 percent of our young people are out of jobs and unemployment is over 12 percent,” Raisi said. “Does this situation have to continue? Do we have to wait for foreigners to fix our problems?”
Raisi said the country was facing “an unacceptable situation because of weak management.”
Qalibaf also attacked Rohani’s economic management during a televised debate on April 28, which featured all six approved presidential candidates.
A debate scheduled for May 5 will focus on political issues, while a May 12 event will focus on the economy.
Based on reporting by Reuters and farsnews.com