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Iran cleric urges live broadcast of presidential election debates

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Tehran interim Friday prayers leader Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani addresses worshipers in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on April 21, 2017. (Photo by Tasnim news agency)

A top Iranian cleric has called for the live televised broadcast of the forthcoming presidential election debates, saying the measure would boost the nation’s insight and knowledge about the candidates.

The live broadcast of the debates among the presidential candidates would be “one of the best ways” to enhance the Iranians’ awareness and help them identify the best hopeful, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani said in an address to worshipers at the weekly Friday prayers in the Iranian capital.

The senior cleric made the remarks after Iran’s Election Campaign Monitoring Committee decided on Thursday to call off the live broadcast of debates and to cover the debates in recorded version instead.

The decision has drawn widespread criticism among Iranian officials and people.

Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Abdolali Ali-Askari expressed hope that the committee would understand the nation’s expectations from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and make a revision of the decision.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Movahedi Kermani asked for a high turnout in the May 19 election, which he described as “a difficult test.”

“Through its massive turnout in the elections, [the Iranian nation] must prove that the Islamic establishment is strong and enjoys the backing of its people,” the cleric said.

He added that Iranians should prove their political awareness by electing the most appropriate candidate.

He also called on the candidates to avoid making promises that they would fail to carry out.

Campaigning officially started on Friday for Iran's 12th presidential election, a day after the Interior Ministry announced the final list of six candidates vetted by the Guardian Council to run in the presidential election.

Iran will simultaneously hold the 12th presidential election and the 5th City and Village Councils Elections on May 19.

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