Tue May 2, 2017 07:11AM
Candidates for the 12th presidential election (L-R) Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, Hassan Rouhani, and Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim
Candidates for the 12th presidential election (L-R) Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, Hassan Rouhani, and Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim

Candidates contesting Iran’s upcoming presidential polls continue to campaign for office, speaking of future plans and defending past performances.

President Hassan Rouhani, who is seeking another term, and two other aspirants, Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf and member of Iran’s Expediency Council Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim, further laid out their plans in remarks on Tuesday and Monday.

The incumbent

On Tuesday, President Rouhani attended an event inaugurating the mass production of domestic sedan vehicle DENA+ by Iran Khodro and the automaker’s licensed mass production of Peugeot 2008.

“We never say no to domestic production,” President Rouhani said in a speech at that event, adding, however, that Iran had to take advantage of opportunities when foreign firms expressed willingness to export capital and technology to the country.

He said he had lived up to his 2013 campaign pledge of bringing progress to Iran’s industrial sector beside its nuclear program and said, as cases in point, that the country was currently both producing more vehicles and had the most advanced centrifuges in the service of its nuclear program.

He also said that one of his administration’s achievements had been constructive interaction with the world.

The interaction, he said, had led the international community to admit to the falsehood of allegations against Iran’s nuclear program.

On Monday, Rouhani said his administration had opted for patience and tolerance against critics but was against the “destructive” bids targeting it, calling such drives illicit from both legal and religious standpoints.

In the area of foreign policy, he said, his team had adopted “constructive interaction” with the world, while giving primacy to Iran’s neighbors and Muslim countries.

“We will interact with Asian, European, American, and all countries that do not harbor animosity against us and that act justly,” he said.

The president said there were several reasons why Iran had to be prepared to defend itself, including the presence of terrorist groups in the region.

“The United States has not abandoned its acts of mischief against the people of Iran. The stronger our national and regional powers get, [the more] American mischief will be prevented,” President Rouhani said.

He also said that youths have to be given more sway in the country, adding that the criterion to pick cabinet members will be competence not age.

Qalibaf

Offering his potential administration’s policy vis-à-vis the United States, Qalibaf said the proper “fight against the US” takes place on the economic stage.

“The only way to battle the enemy is [to enable] economic progress… Today, our diplomacy should be [employed] in the economic area,” he said.

Qalibaf, who has been a strong critic of a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers negotiated under the Rouhani administration, said nevertheless that his administration would stand by the deal because “the establishment had opted for negotiations,” which led to the accord.

The Tehran mayor, however, said the accord had been followed by the Europeans boosting their Iran exports but had neither contributed to the people’s economic situation nor created jobs.

He reiterated a pledge to create as many as four million jobs and repeated his allegation that four percent of the population was now receiving the lion’s share of the country’s wealth on the back of purported connections.

Mirsalim

Mirsalim said he would attempt to “rescue the country from economic and social woes.”

He said that while serving in various capacities under previous administrations, he had offered plans to reduce the level of pollutants in Tehran’s air. The plans, though, did not come to fruition, Mirsalim said, pledging to find a solution for the issue with the assistance of experts if elected.

The Iranian electorate will go to the polls on May 19.

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Also contesting the election are Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, the current custodian of the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH) in the northeastern city of Mashhad, incumbent First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri, and former vice president Mostafa Hashemi-Taba.