Iran presidential hopefuls trade blame over economic woes

Iran’s reformist and ultraconservative presidential candidates trade accusations over the country’s economic crisis during the first pre-election debate broadcast live on television.

Iranians are set to elect a successor to President Hassan Rouhani on June 18 amid widespread discontent over a deep economic and social crisis caused by the reimposition of crippling sanctions after the US pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran’s conservative-dominated Guardian Council approved seven candidates — five ultraconservative and two reformists — to run from a field of about 600 hopefuls.

Ultraconservative judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi is widely seen as a favorite, after the Council disqualified moderate conservative Ali Larijani.

In this file photo taken on May 15, 2021, Iranian judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi delivers a speech after registering his candidacy for Iran’s presidential elections, at the Interior Ministry in capital Tehran, ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for June. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

Ultraconservative candidates call on reformist hopeful Abdolnasser Hemmati, who is the country’s central bank governor, to take responsibility for the crisis, and accuse him of seeking to defend the government’s record.

“Mr Hemmati, your governance was catastrophic, you are sitting here as a representative of Mr Rouhani,” says Mohsen Rezai, a former chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

Hemmati takes aim at his ultraconservative adversaries’ economic plan, saying their pledges of massive direct financial aid are “unrealizable.”

He also accuses them of undermining Iran’s international relations and preventing the country from benefiting from the nuclear deal.

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