Iran: Tehran’s mayor attacks Rouhani in pre-election debate

BY NASSER KARIMI

Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran — Tehran’s mayor and presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf accused on Friday President Hassan Rouhani’s administration of dishonesty, mismanagement and supporting the rich at the expense of the poor in the first debate between the six presidential candidates.

During the first of three planned debates ahead of the May 19 elections, Qalibaf criticized the Rouhani administration, saying social and environmental problems remained unsolved because of “Your weak management. Your old and traditional management.”

Qalibaf’s other criticisms of Rouhani’s administration included that it does not believe in privatization and had failed to fulfil a promise to create four million jobs — a promise Rouhani, interrupting, denied making.

Rouhani’s senior vice-president and presidential candidate responded by saying that Qalibaf and other hard-liners did not voice concern for the “squandering of some $700 bln” during President Ahmadinejad’s administration.

Rouhani also accused Qalibaf of issuing false statements.

He went to added that Iran needed a $200 bln investment in its oil industry, and that there was a need for more investment to create more jobs.

Qalibaf, 55, a conservative veteran member of the elite Revolutionary Guard, is running for president for the third time after unsuccessful bids in 2005 and 2013.

His candidacy could, however, be marred by his support for hardliners who stormed the Saudi embassy in 2016, leading to a severing of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Riyadh.

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