Hardline Iranian presidential hopeful Ebrahim Raisi condemned President Hassan Rouhani’s economic management yesterday, speaking at an election campaign rally in a packed Tehran stadium.
Addressing thousands of supporters who waved Iranian flags and held pictures of their candidate, he blamed Rouhani and foreign powers for Iran’s economic woes.
“Today, 30% of our young people are out of jobs and unemployment is over 12%,” Raisi said.
“Does this situation have to continue? Do we have to wait for foreigners to fix our problems?”
His supporters chanted “Raisi, we love you!” at his first major campaign rally ahead of a May 19 presidential election in which he is hoping to unseat moderate incumbent Rouhani.
“We are facing an unacceptable situation because of weak management,” Raisi said.
“We can’t fix our country’s problems with words. We can fix our problems with firm and revolutionary management.”
Raisi, a veteran judge, and Tehran’s conservative mayor Mohamed Bagher Ghalibaf are the two main conservative candidates challenging reformists Rouhani and First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri. “He’s the most competent candidate because he is a believer, he is healthy, committed, revolutionary and thinks of the people,” Seraj, a 50-year-old retiree, said of Raisi.
“The priority is the economy, reinforcing national production and solving unemployment,” he said, accusing Rouhani’s government of being “too passive and made up of old men”.
“But we thank Mr Rouhani because in his four years as president he has exposed the true face of the United States and the fact that we cannot trust it,” he added.
Conservatives accuse Rouhani, who in 2015 signed a deal with world powers over Iran’s nuclear programme, of being duped by the West, particularly the United States.
They argue that by retaining some sanctions, the US blocked Iran from fully normalising its economic relations with the outside world.
Raisi said he would aim to build a million homes and create a million jobs per year.