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Rouhani Calls for Army Neutrality Ahead of Presidential Elections | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An Iranian national flag flutters during the opening ceremony of the 16th International Oil, Gas & Petrochemical Exhibition (IOGPE) in Tehran April 15, 2011. REUTERS/STR/File Photo

London- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has stressed the need for the Iranian Army to remain neutral during Friday’s parliamentary elections.

In his last electoral speech in the city of Mashhad on Wednesday, Rouhani who is running for the elections as a “reformist” candidate, said that the armed forces should not engage within any party or political group and “stay away from political games”, in line with the recommendations of Iran’s spiritual leader Ali Khamenei.

The president criticized the interference of the judiciary and media institutions in the electoral process.

He also strongly defended his government’s achievements with regards to the nuclear deal and the openness to the international community.

Rouhani and his ultra-conservative opponent Ebrahim Raisi held dueling rallies in northeastern Iran on Wednesday, the final day of campaigning before the presidential elections.

Addressing his supporters, Raisi said: “We follow the culture of ability and action.”

He added that, if elected president, he would seek to resolve the country’s economic and living problems.

Meanwhile, Rouhani’s government received a strong support on Tuesday when four French-Italian made ATR 72-600s planes landed in Tehran, within a deal which forms part of plans to rebuild the airline’s fleet.

Another sign of support to the current Iranian government was highlighted on Wednesday, when Reuters said that US President Donald Trump extended wide sanctions relief for Iran called for under the 2015 international nuclear deal.

During his presidential campaign, Trump criticized the nuclear agreement and went on to say that he would “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran”; however, Wednesday’s actions demonstrated that he has decided, at least for now, to keep it, according to Reuters.

“The United States continues to waive sanctions as required to continue implementing US sanctions-lifting commitments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” the State Department said in a statement published by Reuters, referring to the deal by its formal name.