Corruption Scandals Dominate Final Iranian Presidential Debate

London – A week before the presidential elections in Iran, the six candidates faced off in a final televised debate that was dominated by issues of economy and accusations of corruption.

Outgoing President Hassan Touhani and his Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri exchanged accusations with hardline former General Prosecutor Ebrahim Raisi and conservative Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf.

The debate witnessed heated arguments between Rouhani and Qalibaf over last summer’s real estate scandals and the astronomical salaries of senior state officials.

Hinting that Rouhani’s brother, Hussein Fere, may be involved in corruption, Raisi said: “There is no difference in combating corruption, whether from under my turban or Rouhani’s or from under the jackets of Jahangiri or Qalibaf.”

Turning to Rouhani, he declared that the general prosecution and the top aide of the judicial council head had informed him that they possess documents that prove that some people in his closest circle are involved in corruption.

For his part, Rouhani retaliated by accusing Raisi of issuing sentences against clerics, referring to the former general prosecutor’s role in a special trial of clergymen.

In addition, he said that Qalibaf had been charged in the past for rejecting an investigation with him that was looking into violations committed before the 2005 presidential elections.

Returning to the corruption scandals, Qalibaf said that Rouhani and Jahangiri received “highly subsidized” properties from the government.

Qalibaf, a veteran member of the powerful Revolutionary Guard, also said Rouhani administration had facilitated large loans to “particular individuals” through state-run banks while average citizens still struggle to secure small loans.

He added that Rouhani’s administration had given “extraordinary payments” to senior officials.

If no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote on May 19, a second round run-off would be held a week later. Qalibaf has made a run-off more likely by resisting calls from other hardliners to step aside.