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Iran's Rohani Warns Of Authoritarianism If Rivals Win Presidential Election

Iranian women stand in front of campaign posters for President Hassan Rohani in the city of Karaj.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani warned Iranians that a vote for his hard-line rivals could bring greater authoritarianism to the country, while his main opponent assailed him over his economic policies.

Rohani and rival Ebrahim Raisi spoke at separate rallies on April 29, a day after a televised debate and three weeks ahead of the May 19 Iranian presidential election.

Rohani, who is seeking a second four-year term, told a rally in the city of Yazd that "we will not let them bring the security and police atmosphere back 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.

In a televised speech, Rohan said that "freedom is the most important issue for Iranians." He said he had ordered the Intelligence Ministry not to "interfere in people's privacy."

Raisi, a hard-line cleric and close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is considered Rohani’s main rival, along with Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi (file photo)
Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi (file photo)

Raisi attacked Rohani over the state of the country’s economy during a rally in a packed Tehran stadium.

"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.

Khamenei has also challenged Rohani's economic record, saying his negotiated agreements with the West and concessions over Iran’s nuclear program have not brought about improvements in the economy.

A debate scheduled for May 5 will focus on political issues, while a May 12 event will focus on the economy.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters