Published: Thu, May 11, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Top leader: Iran will 'slap' anyone causing election unrest

Top leader: Iran will 'slap' anyone causing election unrest

Iran's supreme leader says anyone trying to foment unrest around the country's upcoming presidential election, like that which followed the disputed 2009 vote, "will be hit with a slap".

Rouhani also questioned the tax-exempt status of a charitable foundation linked to Iran's supreme leader and suggested in a televised debate Friday that Iran's most influential security institution, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, tried to sabotage the 2015 nuclear deal he struck with world powers.

"The hype over Iran's missile capability is due to their (enemies) spite and anger about this element of power in Iran", Khamenei said to commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

So far, however, there has been no sign of major problems ahead of the May 19 election.

"If we stand prepared to confront this plot to create insecurity and sedition, we will surely be able to neutralize it", Ayatollah Khamenei asserted. Authorities blocked Ahmadinejad from running in next week's election.

"That wealthy, vicious American Zionist who said he had disrupted Georgia with $10 million, foolishly thought in 2009 of influencing the Islamic Republic which is so great; they faced stout wall of national will and determination; today is also like the past" Leader of the Islamic Revolution warned, underlining the need to strongly protect country's security during the election.

In an interview aired Tuesday night, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said his agents broke up a plot that would involve gangs of paid youths fighting each other. "We only wanted to campaign in the streets around the office, but the security agents said we could only do that inside the office, not in the city".

But he has stopped short of backing any of Rouhani's hardline opponents, who include influential cleric Ebrahim Raisi and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

Using populist rhetoric, they accuse Rouhani of overselling the nuclear deal and failing to pressure the West to meet its obligations to lift all worldwide sanctions.

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