TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday ruled out resigning and vowed to see out his term, even as he admitted he had offered to step aside twice since being elected.
Speaking ahead of a general election next Friday, Rouhani also appealed to voters to turn out despite the fact that many moderate and reformist candidates were disqualified from the race. Rumours have swirled in Iran recently that the 71-year-old, whose second and last term ends next year, had been planning to quit, but his office denied the reports.
Rouhani’s government has come under fire over the state of Iran’s sanctions-hit economy and for allegedly failing to fulfil election promises.
The legitimacy of Rouhani and his government have been called into question after they were left in the dark for days after the armed forces admitted they “accidentally” shot down a Ukrainian airliner on January 8.
Hardliners have attacked his administration for negotiating a nuclear deal with world powers that ultimately backfired when the United States withdrew unilaterally and reimposed harsh sanctions.
“My resignation does not make much sense... we have made promises to the people and we will continue to fulfil those promises” despite the economic situation and pressure from “the enemy”, Rouhani said, referring to the US.
“The idea of resigning (because of these recent problems) never occurred to me.” But Rouhani admitted he had offered to resign twice in the past, and that they were rejected by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“In the first months after my election, I told the supreme leader ‘If you think for some reason that someone else or another government can serve the country better, I’m ready to go’,” said Rouhani. “He vehemently rejected it,” he told a news conference in Tehran.
Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2020