Gov’t Critics Yet to Account for Poor Past Record

Gov’t Critics Yet to Account for Poor Past RecordGov’t Critics Yet to Account for Poor Past Record

Critics who accuse President Hassan Rouhani's government of incompetence should be accountable for the damage they inflicted on the country and its economy during the tenure of Rouhani's predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the vice president for parliamentary affairs said.

Remarks by Majid Ansari on Tuesday came at a critical time, days ahead of Friday's concurrent votes for the parliament and the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body empowered to dismiss and appoint the Leader of the Islamic Revolution and oversee his performance.

The campaigning period, scheduled to end early today, has been marked with intense, fierce rivalry between a coalition of pro-government moderates and reformists and a bloc of conservatives dominated by supporters of Ahmadinejad, IRNA reported.

Experts blame the previous administration for handing over an ailing economy with large deficits to his successor Rouhani, who has been struggling since taking office in 2013 to fulfill his election pledge of restoring economic vitality.  

"Unfortunately, some have accused the government of lacking plans to address economic problems and promising the public a utopian economic landscape," Ansari said.

"They were in charge in the two previous governments. They owe the people an explanation on what they did to the unprecedented and huge national income of $700 billion obtained from oil sales at the price of $120 per barrel over the eight-year period [2005-13], when they dominated both the administration and the legislature."

Oil prices have nosedived from figures of above $100 per barrel before mid-2014 to 12-year lows of around $30, further complicating Rouhani's efforts to jumpstart the oil-dependent economy.

  Economic Ruin

"[Conservative critics] are under the illusion that the people have lost their memory of the political past. But people remember their past performance very well. The current government has been clearing up the debris left by the economic earthquake they created," Ansari said.

"They supported the destructive policies of the previous government all along the eight-year term, which took every economic infrastructure to the brink of collapse. They imposed on the current popular government an 8.6% economic slump, a 43% inflation, a near-bankrupt banking system and a multibillion-dollar debt."

Ansari, who is also the deputy secretary of the pro-reform Association of Combatant Clerics, said the conservatives are in no position to question the government's record. The July 14 landmark nuclear deal with major powers, Rouhani's signature achievement that has given his public image a major boost, has been the target of sharp criticism from conservative figures, who portray it as a deal documenting capitulation to the hostile West.   

"They are the same people who in the past … committed the ultimate cruelty against the government and stabbed our diplomats in the back while they were in the battlefield of negotiations by leveling various accusations to create a climate of disillusion in the country," he said.