Iran Presidential Hopefuls Debate Economy Ahead Of Election

Iran presidential hopefuls debate economy ahead of election

Tehran, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 18th Jun, 2024) The six candidates vying to succeed President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash, focused on revitalising Iran's sanctions-hit economy in their first debate ahead of next week's election.

The six contenders faced off in a four-hour live debate, vowing to address the financial challenges affecting the country's 85 million people.

Originally slated for 2025, the election was moved forward after President Raisi's death on May 19 in a helicopter crash in northern Iran.

Long before the June 28 election, Iran had been grappling with mounting economic pressures, including international sanctions and soaring inflation.

"We will strengthen the economy so that the government can pay salaries according to inflation and maintain their purchasing power," presidential hopeful Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said.

Ghalibaf, Iran's parliament speaker, also pledged to work towards removing crippling US sanctions reimposed after then US president Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran's economy grew by 5.7 percent in the year to March 2024, with authorities targeting a further eight percent growth this year, driven by hydrocarbon exports.

President candidate Massoud Pezeshkian said he would seek to build regional and global relations to achieve this growth.

He also called for easing internet restrictions in the Islamic republic where Facebook, Instagram, Telegram and X are among the social media platforms banned.

Former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, however, said Iran did not need to repair its relations with the West.

He took aim at Trump, saying his policy of "maximum pressure" against Iran had "failed miserably".

- 'Maximum pressure' -

Ghalibaf, Jalili and Pezeshkian are seen as the frontrunners for Iran's second highest-ranking job.

Incumbent Vice President Amirhossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi said during the debate he would seek to lower inflation following a "political leadership style similar to that of Martyr Raisi."

Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the only cleric in the running, blamed international sanctions for "blocking the economy" and "making financial transactions impossible".

Tehran's mayor, Alireza Zakani, said the US sanctions were "cruel" but were not the main problem behind Iran's economic hardship.

"We should emphasise the economic independence of the country, de-dollarise the economy and rely on our own national Currency," he said.