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Iran's president faces calls to resign over economic crisis

Irans president faces calls to resign over economic crisis

Teheran: As Iran marked the 40th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution, a white-turbaned Shiite cleric at one commemoration targeted President Hassan Rouhani, a fellow clergyman, with this sign: "You who are the cause of inflation; we hope you won't last until spring."

Already lashed by criticism over his collapsing nuclear deal and renewed tensions with the US, the relatively moderate Rouhani faces anger from clerics, hard-line forces and an ever-growing disaffected public that now threatens his position.

"We need someone who creates jobs and firmly pushes the brake pedal on rising prices."

It's been a long fall for Rouhani, who secured the 2015 nuclear deal after two years in office and won the praise of Iranians, who flooded the streets to celebrate it. Under the deal, Iran limited its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

But the benefits of the deal never reached much of the Iranian public. Even before President Donald Trump pulled America from the accord in May, uncertainty over its future caused the rial to crater, fueling sporadic, nationwide protests.

Now the rial is dropping again, down to 133,000 to $1. It had been 32,000 to the dollar at the time of the deal. On social media, hard-liners share price lists showing food staples like beans, rice and tomato paste rising as much as 238 per cent.

Hard-liners stopped parliament speaker Ali Larijani, an ally of Rouhani, from addressing a crowd in Karaj, only 40 kilometres west of Tehran.

Rouhani's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, typically collected, appeared visibly frustrated at times during a recent security conference in Munich.

Hassan Abbasi, a retired general in Iran's hard-line Revolutionary Guard, which answers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave a speech after Karaj saying he believed people will spit on Rouhani, Larijani and Zarif in the streets over the nuclear deal after they leave office. He said they are "shivering" over the accord's collapse.

Historically,  only once has an elected President been forced to quit office.  That was Abul Hassan Bani Sadr,  who fell out of favour with the Supreme Leader,  and was removed from office by the parliament.

(With input fromPTI)

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