Avoid ‘Immoral’ Speeches, Khamenei Says as Iran Poll Heats Up

  • Comments follow attacks by Rouhani on conservative opponents
  • President’s record on economy post-nuclear deal in focus

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on candidates in this month’s presidential election to avoid “immoral” outbursts that could damage the nation, after the contest turned increasingly confrontational.

“Elections can bring us pride or weaken us,” Khamenei said in a public address on Wednesday, according to his website. “If people participate with order and proceed with ethics and respect the limits of Islam and laws, it will lead to dignity for the Islamic Republic,” he said. If they “turn immoral and with their spoken words give hope to the enemy, then the elections will turn to our disadvantage.”

The comments by Khamenei, Iran’s final arbiter on all matters of state, followed hard-hitting campaign speeches by President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate cleric, that have attacked his conservative challengers over issues ranging from personal freedoms to corruption and paying tax. Hossein Shariatmadari, who was appointed by Khamenei as the editor-in-chief of the loyalist Kayhan newspaper, on Tuesday accused Rouhani of targeting Iran’s foundations under pretext of campaigning.

Rouhani has made several trips to Iran’s provinces this week to shore up support ahead of the May 19 race in which he’s seeking a second term, targeting opponents with backgrounds in the judiciary and security forces.

His leading challengers -- hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi and conservative Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf -- have attacked Rouhani’s record in office, in particular the delay in turning the 2015 nuclear deal into better living standards for the majority.

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