Seeking re-election in May, President Hassan Rouhani has hit back at US criticism of Iran’s ballot.
“Elections in Iran are free, clean, competitive and democratic,” Rouhani asserts on the sidelines of a meeting of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran on Tuesday.
The US State Department, in its 2016 human rights report released last week, cited “limitations on citizens’ ability to choose their government peacefully through free and fair elections” in Iran. It noted the vetting of all prospective candidates by the Guardian Council and restrictions on the media.
Rouhani responded, “I think those who are criticizing elections in Iran need to take a look at the recent election [in the US] and the problems they had.” He claimed both the Republican and Democratic parties had protested the process, and said even Donald Trump was skeptical about the “cleanness of the polls” before his victory.
The Iranian President is facing a stiff challenge to his re-election, although hardliners and conservatives have yet to agree on a primary candidate.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Leader displayed his concern about any repetition of the dissent after the disputed 2009 Presidential election, declaring that “enemies” were waging a “cultural war” to undermine the Islamic Republic.