London – Campaign tensions between outgoing president Hassan Rouhani and his rival candidate, Tehran’s conservative Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, escalated two weeks ahead of the May 19 presidential election.
On Wednesday, Iranian Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi responded to Ghalibaf’s televised speech on the trafficking scandal pinned to one of the children of a pro-Rouhani minister.
Iranian politician and cultural advisor Hesamodin Ashna harshly criticized conservative candidate and senior cleric Ebrahim Raisi for speeches accusing the government of widespread corruption.
On the other hand, former president and leader of the reformist Mohammad Khatami issued a statement in support of reelecting his ally Hassan Rouhani for another term.
“Today, Mr. Rouhani not being elected would mean the increased likelihood of the return of [Iran’s] isolation and sanctions,” wrote the Reformist heavyweight.
Accusations of corruption were exchanged faster than a shooting round of bullets between Tehran’s moderate and conservative platforms, exasperating tensions on the nation’s political arena.
Conservative candidates are betting on Rouhani losing votes over worsening economic and living conditions in Iran, which has given corruption speculations a margin for credibility across the political scene– despite the stringent vetting procedures limiting presidential candidates to a pre-approved few by supreme decision-making circles.
Ghalibaf had demanded Rouhani apologizes to the Iranian people for corruption, particularly on scandals related to trafficked goods. The conservative presidential nominee stressed that four percent of Iranians control the country’s wealth, while a 96 percent remains underprivileged and submerged with economic strain.
On the case of trafficked goods, Justice Chief Pourmohammadi denied statements made by judiciary mouthpiece Mohsen Ajai on authorities apprehending smuggled clothes at a minister’s house.
Pourmohammadi came out saying that the smuggled shipment confiscated in Lavasan, Tehran is open to judicial investigation into the case.
“The suspicious shipment belongs to one of the minister’s children and was seized at the minister’s house,” Ajai had reported.
Pourmohammadi ordered prosecution to file an apology for Rouhani after allegedly investigation showing that the shipment was “legal and licensed”.
Another response that rushed to defend the Rouhani government was made by Iran’s Vice-President for Parliamentary Affairs Hossein Ali Amiri, a close associate of Rouhani, expressed serious Iranian concerns on declassifying issues on debates broadcasted nationwide.
Amiri said such malicious publicity jeopardized Iranian national security, Tehran-based IRNA news agency reported.
Amiri said that the uncivilized exchange of accusations and slander between candidates during the election campaigns violates the law and ethics.
He urged candidates to focus on their own electoral programs instead of targeting their rivals.
Amiri warned of the consequences of candidates making promises that supersede the extent of legal jurisdiction assigned to the post of president.
“We are hearing words and promises causing social and national divisions,” he added.