Rohani warns Iranian Revolutionary Guards not to interfere in presidential election

Iranian President Hassan Rowhani on Wednesday urged the Revolutionary Guards and his Basij militia not to interfere in the presidential election on Friday in a rare warning that highlighted the growing political tensions.

The Revolutionary Guard, which oversees a multi-billion dollar economic empire, is rarely publicly criticized, but Rohani is in an unexpectedly heated race against conservative cleric Ibrahim Hafezi, who is believed to have the Guard’s support.

“We have only one request: that the Basij and the Revolutionary Guards remain in their places to carry out their work,” Rohani was quoted as saying during a campaign speech in the city of Mashhad.

Rowhani added his appeal to quote the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, who said he warned the armed forces not to interfere in politics.

Suspicions that the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij militia falsified the election results in favor of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 led to demonstrations across the country. According to human rights groups, dozens were killed and hundreds arrested in the biggest unrest in the history of the Islamic Republic.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said maintaining security was the top priority of the elections. He also condemned the presidential statements as “indecent” in an indirect attack on Rohani, who is seeking a second term of four years.

Rohani, 68, and a 56-year-old president backed by the Supreme Leader, exchanged accusations of corruption and brutality on television. Rouhani’s chief indictees blamed corruption and mismanagement of the economy and Ward Rouhani, who wants Iran to open up to the West and ease social restrictions in the country by accusing him of serving in the judiciary for several years for human rights abuses. Both deny the charges