News ID: 313631
Published: 0602 GMT June 05, 2021

Government demands opportunity to defend against ‘baseless’ campaign charges

Government demands opportunity to defend against ‘baseless’ campaign charges

National Desk

The Iranian government has applied to be provided with an appropriate opportunity as soon as possible to answer the “baseless” charges leveled against the executive branch in the first debate among the candidates of the country’s 2021 presidential election which was broadcast live on national TV on Saturday.

The requst was made by government’s representatives in the Council for Supervision over the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) in a letter to the national broadcaster’s head, Abdolali Aliasgari, IRNA reported.

“Unfortunately, during the first election debate among the presidential candidates, some of them made charges against the state-run organizations and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, which are required to be answered in an effort to defend each and every legal and natural person whose name was mentioned in the debate,” read the letter.

Earlier, the government’s spokesman Ali Rabiei also sent a letter to Aliasgari, stressing that so far, the government has not been given the chance to defend itself against the unsubstantiated accusations.

He called for an opportunity, as per the law, for the incumbent administration to answer the charges.

In addition, the Iranian president’s chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, asked Interior Minister Aboldreza Rahmani-Fazli to allocate an appropriate amount of time to the government at the beginning of the second live debate, to be held on Tuesday, for answering the charges leveled by some of the candidates.


What did candidates say?


In their first debate, the candidates in Iran’s June 18 presidential election clashed over policy — and credentials — and offered roughly two divergent visions on how the country should be run.

The debate was the first of three and intended to focus on the economy. The authorities had ensured that everything — from questions to seating arrangements — was neutral toward all candidates, Press TV reported.

But the preparations and the staging aside, it was a debate mainly between two political schools of thought, reformism and principlism, even though seven candidates are running. And almost all of the candidates were already charged-up, staging preemptive attacks on the perceived rival in anticipation of potentially powerful offensives.

That was exemplified most clearly in the inclination of most, though not all, of the candidates to speak as they saw fit rather than to respond directly to the questions put forth to them by the moderator.

Principlist candidate Mohsen Rezaei, 67, became the first to attack the Rouhani administration.

Abdolnasser Hemmati, the candidate associated with the reformists and also the former governor of the Central Bank of Iran, delivered fiery opening remarks by saying that “a majority” of the Iranian society, including women, had no representation among the candidates.

Alireza Zakani, a relatively mid-profile principlist candidate, took Hemmati’s critiques the hardest. The duo continued to clash until the end of the debate.

All of the candidates criticized the Rouhani administration again.

Hemmati repeatedly dismissed the principlist candidates in the debate as mere “backups” for Ebrahim Raeisi, the other principlist candidate and Judiciary chief.

Amir-Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi, who is a lawmaker, mostly stuck to the questions and avoided launching personal attacks. At one point, he even expressed exasperation at the others for continuing to attack one another instead of focusing on their own plans.

Saeed Jalili, another principlist candidate and a former top nuclear negotiator of Iran under ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also kept composed for most of the debate.

Mohsen Mehr-Alizdeh, a former vice president and a candidate affiliated with the reformist camp, kept the lowest profile for much of the debate.


Clash of visions


But it wasn’t all personal attacks. In the relatively limited time that was spent on laying out policy, and largely after a 15-minute intermission, the candidates toned down their rhetoric and offered more direct responses to queries.

The principlist pack emphasized Iran’s domestic capacities and sought to pit a locally-oriented style of state management versus one marked by purportedly unbridled and unfruitful engagement with the West. And the reformist pair sought to emphasize a domestic and international priority of de-escalation.

All of the seven candidates have so far been focusing on the economy, battered by the US draconian sanctions in recent years.



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