High Public Turnout Key to Efficient Parliament

High Public Turnout Key to Efficient Parliament High Public Turnout Key to Efficient Parliament

President Hassan Rouhani reiterated the importance of the nation's role in empowering competent people to represent them in parliament by casting their ballots in the February 26 elections, saying no Iranian citizen should be persuaded on any grounds to boycott the votes.

Speaking in a wide-ranging televised interview on Tuesday, Rouhani underscored the gravity of the issue and appealed to the public not to turn away from the ballot box, IRNA reported.

The parliamentary and Assembly of Experts polls are scheduled to be held concurrently.

The Guardians Council, comprising clerics and jurists in charge of vetting the nominees, has already judged to exclude a large number of those registered to run in the two crucial elections.

The council is expected to issue its final verdict on the exclusions in a few days after the rejected candidates filed appeals.

The initial rejections have met with strong criticism, particularly from government-allied reformists, an overwhelming proportion of whose nominees have been disqualified.

Rouhani stressed the need to uphold the Iranian Constitution in its entirety to help promote transparency and bolster public confidence.

"I trust all relevant authorities will be fully committed to ensuring a highly popular and competitive elections so as to put them beyond any doubt," he said. "There should be no doubt in the minds of people about the fairness of the votes."

  Hope for Supportive Legislature

The president hoped that people would show discretion to send the most competent candidates to the Majlis, so that a more supportive and cooperative parliament would make greater contribution to national development.

"A Majlis with a more effective interaction with the government and the judiciary would serve the people better," he said.

Reuters also quoted the president as saying that Iran has no problem with US companies investing in its economy and creating joint ventures, after international sanctions against Tehran were lifted on Jan. 16, when the historic nuclear deal with major powers to curb its nuclear program went into force.

Rouhani called for foreign investment and diversification away from oil, saying the lifting of sanctions would see Iran turn into an exporter of manufactured goods and ease the economy's reliance on oil exports.

"If US companies are willing to come and invest in Iran, to bring manufacturing to Iran, we have no problem with that," he said.

Iran plans to boost oil exports now that sanctions have been removed, but the plunge in prices over the past 18 months from above $115 a barrel to below $35 a barrel has squeezed the OPEC exporter's economy.

"Of course the fall in oil prices has put pressure on us, but besides that we can see an opportunity," the president said.

"Even if the oil price rises, we should still rely more on non-oil exports."

Citing the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Rouhani said most of Iran's problems were internal and not caused by sanctions.

"The Leader said sanctions caused 40% of the country's problems and 60% of our problems are not related to sanctions. They are related to our own internal problems," he said.