President Hassan Rouhani is facing fresh criticism amid Iran’s economic crisis — and this time it is coming from within his political circle.
The centrist Rouhani has been under sustained pressure from hardliners, who have used Tehran’s economic problems to bolster their challenge over political and social issues. The Government faced warnings this summer that it could be removed, and the Labor and Economy Ministers were dismissed by Parliament last month.
But the warning on Wednesday came from Gholamhossein Karbaschi, the Secretary-General of the centrist Executives of Construction Party, which has been a key supporter of Rouhani.
“Rouhani can resign like a hero or wake up from his heavy slumber and talk to the people transparently,” said Karbaschi, a former Mayor of Tehran in an interview with reformist monthly publication.
Questioned further about his suggestion of resignation, Karbaschi called on the Presidnet to make a choice and be forthright with the Iranian public:
It is a tough decision. But if he cannot work properly, he should step down like a hero and tell the people that he tried his best but he could not do anything. This might help him to evade the hatred of the people, even if he is not a hero.
But if he believes his resignation is not in the country’s interest, he should carry on transparently with more care.
Amid long-term internal problems and expanding US sanctions, the Iranian economy is struggling with falling oil revenues, weakening production, barriers to investment, unemployment, and a declining currency.
The Supreme Leader has continued to proclaim his “Resistance Economy” and said there should be no pessimism, but has offered no concrete suggestions. Meanwhile, comprehensive US sanctions, following American withdrawal from the July 2015 nuclear agreement, will take effect from November 5.
Karbaschi said that Rouhani had been passive during the growing crisis — a “sedentary manager” — rather than “standing up and active”.
The Executives of Construction Party was established in the 1990s behind President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was the political mentor of Rouhani.
When Rafsanjani — who died in January 2017 — was barred from standing in the 2013 Presidential election, Rouhani was admitted by the Guardian Council as a consolation candidate, only to win a surprise first-round victory.