Rouhani Calls for Unity Prior to Elections, Blames U.S. for Country’s Discord

The President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani is urging his nation to stay united before the upcoming parliamentary election, as he accused the United States of causing divisions and discord in Iran.

“We should not let [President] Trump succeed in creating gaps between the establishment and people … We should remain united … Don’t turn your back on elections. Let’s have a high turn out,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on his official website, Reuters reported. “We should not let Trump and those terrorists in the White House isolate Iran.”

Rouhani also reportedly criticized the nation’s Guardians Council, which is tasked with vetting all political candidates and has disqualified about 9,000 of 14,000 registered parliamentary candidates, leaving moderate factions in most Iranian cities without a candidate ahead of the Feb. 21 elections.

“This parliamentary election is a very important election … I have written letters to relevant authorities to resolve the issue of disqualifications,” Rouhani said, according to Reuters. Addressing the hardline wing, he said “You claim that you will win the election. That is fine, but just let the election be a competitive one.”

Rouhani’s comments come amid ongoing mass demonstrations by Iranians, who took to the streets in the wake of Iran’s downing of a Ukrainian flight. Tehran initially claimed the crash was due to a mechanical failure but later conceded the airliner was accidentally shot down.

Hundreds of anti-government protesters are also believed to have been killed last year.

“I am calling on our nation to vote,” Rouhani said. “Even if you have criticism over issues and problems, please cast your vote.”

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