Less than two months before Iran’s Presidential election, the Supreme Leader’s office has maintained pressure on the Rouhani Government.
Friday Prayer leaders, who speak with guidance from Ayatollah Khamenei’s staff, set out a series of challenges to President Hassan Rouhani, focusing on the state of the economy and implicitly referring to allegations of corruption.
In Mashhad, Iran’s second city, Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda declared that the Government had not fulfilled the “Resistance Economy”, the Supreme Leader’s command for self-sufficiency issued in 2012 amid US-led sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program:
The administration’s duty in this regard is heavy, because the management of the country’s economy is the responsibility of the executive branch….Unfortunately, we have witnessed deviation from the Resistance Economy….
This year, the administration has insisted on crude oil sales, but the Supreme Leader has repeatedly stressed that we must work on oil processing, rather than winning money from oil sales to buy foreign goods, because domestic production and youth employment is at stake.
The Tehran Friday Prayer leader, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi-Kermani, referred to claims of corruption. While besetting Iranian politics for years, the allegations have circulated around the Rouhani Government and other parts of the regime since last May, when the “Payslips Scandal” broke over excessive salaries and bonuses of officials:
Unity of the people and the government is mutual love. The people’s communication with the government must be easy lest a distance [between the people and the government] occurs. Of course, the luxurious life of those in power separates them from the people. This is disaster. We must learn the great Leader’s valuing of the simple life.
Movahedi Kermani also brought up the economy, likely to be the dominant issue of the campaign, “The matter of the Resistance Economy is an important one for our country… What is the effect of seminars and meetings regarding the people’s problems? Lest there be only talk and no action taken.”
He said of May’s election: “We must strive to identify the fittest [candidate] in order to select the best and most qualified candidate. Neglecting this major work bears a great punishment.”
Rouhani is facing a stern challenge as he seeks a second term, although conservatives and hardliners have yet to agree on a primary candidate.
(h/t to Iran Tracker for translations)