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Jahangiri Stole Lights in Iran’s First Live Presidential Debate | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iranian presidential candidates (L to R) Mostafa Hashemitaba, Hassan Rouhani, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Eshaq Jahangiri, Ebrahim Raisi and Mostafa Mirsalim attend a live debate on state TV in Tehran on April 28, 2017.

London – Iran’s vice-president and presidential candidate Eshaq Jahangiri stole the lights on Friday during the first live debate held between the six candidates contesting Iran’s presidential election.

The first of three live debates, held on Friday for three hours, witnessed fierce confrontations between outgoing President Hassan Rouhani and his vice-president Jahangiri, from one side and conservative candidate Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf from another side.

Ghalibaf attacked Rouhani’s political administration and accused it of failing to manage Iran’s crises, mainly unemployment.

For his part, Jahangiri hinted to Ghalibaf’s role in the attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad that took place in 2016, and said the attack had caused a great damage to the Iranian tourism industry by creating tense relations with Saudi Arabia. Jahangiri said due to the attacks, Iran lost around 700 thousand tourists who visit Mashhad every year.

“The attackers of the Saudi Embassy are now used in which presidential campaign? Which candidate was financing what happened?” Jahangiri asked.

The response to Jahangiri’s question came quick by Rouhani’s backed media websites, which published a photo showing Ghalibaf with Hassan Kurdmihan, the first suspect accused of having led the attack on the Saudi embassy.

Also, media published reports in the past few days saying that Ghalibaf had chosen Kurdmihan as head of his presidential campaign in the city of Karj, west Tehran.

On April 20, the Guardian Council, a government vetting body approved that six candidates, including current President Hassan Rouhani, run for the country’s presidential elections next month.

In the same day, the interior ministry had announced it would ban live television debates, triggering an uproar that prompted a change of its decision. Three live debates are now expected before Election Day.

Separately, Jahangiri played down the importance of Ghalibaf’s candidature by referring to the military background of his opponent and of his affiliation to the Revolutionary Guards.

Jahangiri accused Ghalibaf of running the capital “with the mentality of a military man.”