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Iran leader hits out at 'unworthy' election campaign mud-slinging

Iran leader hits out at 'unworthy' election campaign mud-slinging

Rivals have been trading accusations of corruption and brutality in debates and speeches aired on live television and the campaign has been the most bad-tempered in the near 40-year history of the republic.

President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday urged Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militia under its control not to meddle in Friday's presidential election, in a rare warning that underscored rising political tensions.

A reformist candidate dropped out of Iran's presidential election on Tuesday and threw his support behind President Hassan Rouhani, in a widely expected move that will strengthen the incumbent's campaign against a hard-liner. "But please don't abuse religion for power", Rouhani said at one point.

Raisi has accused Rouhani of being corrupt and of mismanaging the economy.

Speaking in a meeting with a large gathering of people from all walks of life in Tehran on Wednesday, Ayatollah Khamenei said the vote would draw the close attention of two groups in the world.

Raisi, as a judge in 1988, approved the execution of thousands of Iranian leftists, and would be expected to stifle dissent if elected.

The State Department says it is telling Congress it will continue to waive sanctions on Iran as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. But widespread economic improvement has yet to materialise, and hardliners accuse him of selling out Iran's interests too cheaply to the West.

According to Isna news agnecy Rouhani's supporters include Oscar winning film director Asghar Farhadi, who told Iranian news agency Isna "I will vote for Dr Rouhani and I hope that those who remain undecided would use their basic right and vote despite all the understandable reasons and conditions that they may have, for the fate of children in our homeland and future generations".

He alluded to hardliners last week as "those who cut out tongues and sewed mouths shut". Turnout for that vote was 73 percent.

Although the unelected supreme leader holds ultimate authority in Iran and all candidates must be vetted by a hardline clerical body, elections are nevertheless hotly contested and have the power to deliver change within a system of government overseen by Shi'ite Muslim religious authorities.

According to reports on opposition website Kalemeh.com, Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, who have been under house arrest since 2011 after they challenged Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election, each issued a statement supporting Rouhani.