Rouhani Denounces US at Revolution Anniversary, Reiterates Demands for Referendum
Commemorating the 41st anniversary of the 1979 revolution, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spend most of his speech Tuesday lashing out at the US administration for killing major general Qassem Soleiman. He also encouraged people to take part in the legislative elections expected in less than 10 days.
His speech came amid a dispute over the eligibility of some candidates, including 90 current deputies.
Most prominent reformists have been barred from running in the February 21 vote.
“I beg you not to be passive" in the elections vote, Rouhani told a rally at Tehran's Azadi Square.
Commenting on the relations with Washington, he said it was “unbearable” for the United States to accept the “victory of a great nation” and that a superpower has been “driven out of this land”.
"It is natural for them to have dreamed, for 41 years, of returning to this land, because they know that we are one of the most powerful countries" in the Middle East, he added.
State TV showed video footage of rallies in at least half a dozen cities outside the capital, including Mashhad, Ahvaz and Kerman, with people holding signs that read, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”, reported Reuters.
Ballistic missiles were also put on display as part of the anniversary celebrations, according to the Tasnim news agency. State TV showed archival footage of missile launches and underground missile storage facilities as part of its coverage.
Iranian authorities had called on its nationals to participate in large numbers at the ceremony, which comes after months of protests that erupted when the government raised petrol prices.
"Securing our country and our region depends on our unity, and participation in this rally is a symbol of this unity," Hadi Khamenei, brother of Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei, said on state television, according to AFP.
Tensions heightened between Iran and the United States since US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018 an international nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions as part of a campaign of "maximum pressure” against Tehran.
Tensions then escalated last month when a US drone strike killed Soleimani in Baghdad.
"The United States believes it is facing 41 years of civilization. No, the Americans are facing thousands of years of Iranian civilization,” the Iranian President said.
Rouhani also indirectly called for the need to hold a referendum in the country over a new system of rule amid internal criticism of the supreme leader’s control over state affairs and agencies, vastly exceeding the power of the government.
The president said the current system is based on the “will of the people” and the “referendum”.