Khamenei demands "maximum" participation in the upcoming presidential elections

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Iran's supreme leader denounced lawmakers who he said believed that everything beneficial came from the United States and asked for "maximum" voter turnout in this week's presidential election in order to "overcome the enemy."

Masoud Pezeshkian, a 69-year-old cardiac surgeon, is the only reformist contender in the campaign; yet, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's remarks seemed to deliberately undermine his candidacy, even though he did not name any specific contenders.

Pezeshkian has called on Iran to revisit the 2015 nuclear agreement and broaden its engagement with the West in speeches given recently.

Khamenei declared, "Anyone who even slightly opposes the revolution or the Islamic system is not useful to you." "He won't make a good colleague for you if he is dependent on the United States and believes that progress cannot be made in the nation without US favor."

A boisterous throng assembled to celebrate the Shia holiday of Eid al-Ghadir repeatedly yelled, "Death to America, death to Israel," in response to remarks made by Khamenei during his hour-long speech.

During his speech, the 85-year-old Khamenei repeatedly urged the audience to quiet down.
The election on Friday follows the death of Iran's hard-line President and Khamenei protégé, Ebrahim Raisi, in a helicopter crash in May.

Khamenei's statement follows this year's record low turnout for a legislative election.

Speaking with The Associated Press, voters in Tehran, the nation's capital, conveyed a general lack of interest in the election given Iran's crippling economic effects from Western sanctions and the wave of anti-government demonstrations that have occurred recently, especially in the wake of Mahsa Amini's death in 2022 and the refusal of some women to don the hijab, the nation's required headscarf.

Pezeshkian, who was mostly unknown to the public prior to joining the campaign, has attracted sizable audiences to his lectures in Tehran and other major cities.

Additionally, Pezeshkian has been attempting to appropriate images from earlier popular reformist initiatives that aim to subvert Iran's theocracy from inside.
His campaign anthem, "For Iran," which emphasizes country over religion, is a reworded version of one that former reformist President Mohammad Khatami formerly used.

In an apparent attempt to identify himself with the 2009 Green Movement demonstrations that erupted throughout Iran following the tainted election and violent crackdown that resulted in hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reelection as president, Pezeshkian has also been seen sporting green scarves.

Pezeshkian did not immediately respond to Khamenei's statements. But they seemed timed to provide his rivals with fodder for the final televised discussion before the election, which was scheduled to take place soon after Khamenei's speech.
In their first debate before next week's election, the six contenders running to replace ultraconservative president Ebrahim Raisi—who was killed in a helicopter crash—focused on reviving Iran's economy, which has been severely damaged by sanctions.

In a four-hour live discussion, the candidates—five conservatives and one reformer—vowed to handle the financial issues facing the 85 million people in the nation.

The election was pushed ahead from its original 2025 date following Raisi's passing on May 19 in a helicopter crash in northern Iran.
Iran had been dealing with increasing economic constraints, such as international sanctions and skyrocketing inflation, long before the June 28 election.

Conservative presidential candidate Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf declared, "We will strengthen the economy so that the government can pay salaries according to inflation and maintain their purchasing power."

The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ghalibaf, also promised to work toward lifting the onerous US sanctions that were reinstated following US President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Iran's economy expanded by 5.7% in the year ending in March 2024, and officials expect this year's growth to reach 8%, mostly due to exports of hydrocarbons.

In order to accomplish this growth, Masoud Pezeshkian, the lone reformist contender, declared he would work to forge regional and international ties.

In the Islamic Republic, where social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, and X are prohibited, he also demanded a loosening of internet regulations.
Pezeshkian has gained support from reformists, whose political clout has diminished in the years following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, when other centrist candidates were disqualified from running.

On the other hand, the ultraconservative former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili stated that Iran did not require mending its ties with the West.

Taking aim at Trump, he declared that his "maximum pressure" strategy against Iran had "failed miserably."
Ghalibaf, Jalili, and Pezeshkian are considered the front-runners for Iran's second-highest position in the lack of public polls.

The president does not have ultimate authority in the state; instead, the 85-year-old Ali Khamenei has held the position for 35 years.

During the debate, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi, the vice president in office, declared that he would emulate "Maryr Raisi's political leadership style" in his efforts to reduce inflation.

Iran's 2021 election, which barred reformist and moderate candidates from running, was easily won by Raisi. He had been predicted by Khamenei to take over as supreme leader.

In order to prevent further isolation, Iran under the late president worked to mend fences with its Arab neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia, and pursue better relations with China and Russia.

However, ties with the West remained strained, especially after the Gaza conflict broke out on October 7.

The drop has been accelerated by Tehran's sponsorship of Hamas, a militant group in Palestine, and the current international problems over Iran's nuclear program.

The sole priest left in the race, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, said that foreign sanctions were "blocking the economy" and "making financial transactions impossible."

Although the US sanctions are "cruel," according to Tehran's conservative mayor Alireza Zakani, they are not the primary cause of Iran's economic suffering.

He declared, "We should stress the nation's economic independence, dedollarize the economy, and use our own national currency."

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