Rouhani to Hold Steadfast to Moderate Agenda

The government is keen to stick with its policy of promoting deeper engagement with international businesses as the key to reviving the domestic economy
President Hassan Rouhani addresses supporters in Kerman on April 29.President Hassan Rouhani addresses supporters in Kerman on April 29.

President Hassan Rouhani vowed to push ahead with his moderate agenda to bring greater social freedom and economic prosperity if he's reelected in the upcoming poll.

"We made some commitments in 2013 and have so far been moving on the path to [fulfill] them. We need to remain steadfast and continue until the end to achieve our ambitious goals," Rouhani was quoted as saying by IRNA, referring to the year when he assumed office.

He was addressing a gathering of his supporters in the southeastern province of Kerman on Saturday.

Tens of millions of Iranians use the Telegram, a networking application that has built up momentum in the Iranian society during Rouhani's office and remains unaffected by a widespread ban on access to most social networking websites in Iran.

Rouhani pushed back against his conservative critics who oppose his plans to create a freer society and demand limiting public access to the Internet.

"They have opposed our demand to allow the people to join social networks and pressure us to block such networks. But now during the election, they themselves are among the most frequent users of cyberspace," he said.

"If cyberspace and social networks are to be banned, the ban should apply to all users and not just the public."

***No Going Back

Rouhani said his government is keen to stick with the policy of promoting deeper engagement with international businesses, which he insists is the key to reviving the domestic economy.

"We will not backtrack. We intend to attract foreign investors, along with local investors, to generate employment for our people, [particularly] the youth," Rouhani added.

Iran's economy is still recovering from years of crippling sanctions targeting its key economic sectors.

They have been eased under a nuclear deal with major powers in return for temporary restrictions on Tehran's nuclear work.

The five other candidates canvassing for votes in the May 19 election are Rouhani's Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri, former conservative culture minister, Mostafa Mirsalim, former pro-reform vice president, Mostafa Hashemitaba, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Ebrahim Raeisi, the custodian of the holy shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH) and former prosecutor general.

The last two, representing the conservative camp against Rouhani and his moderate and reformist supporters, have publicly criticized Rouhani's economic performance and his policy of opening the economy to "outsiders".

They have promised to create millions of jobs and increase the public share of government income if they are elected to run the executive branch for the next four-year term.


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