Rouhani Urges Iran MPs to Cooperate as Parliament Opens

W460

President Hassan Rouhani urged Iranian lawmakers to "cooperate" with his government in a speech on Wednesday during the inaugural session of the new parliament following February elections swept by conservatives.

"I hope that in the year that remains for this government we will be able to cooperate and work together," Rouhani said in the address before the newly formed parliament, or Majles.

Iran is scheduled to hold a presidential election in spring 2021.

The 11th legislature since the Islamic revolution of 1979 opened as the country's economy, which has been hard hit by the novel coronavirus, gradually returns to normal.

In a sign that the fight against the virus is still far from over, however, a seat was left vacant between each deputy. But the elected representatives wore no masks.

Rouhani, who is in the final year of his second and final term, called on MPs, collectively and individually, to place the "national interest above special interests", "party interests" or "constituency interests".

The moderate president defended the performance of his government, which has faced criticism from its conservative and ultra-conservative opponents that now form a majority in the parliament.

For many observers, the record abstention in February's elections reflected the people's disenchantment with broken promises.

Less than 43 percent of voters cast ballots in the election, according to official results.

The signing of an international agreement on Iran's nuclear programme in 2015 had raised hopes for a bright economic future and an opening up of the country to the world after years of isolation.

But these hopes were dashed before being totally buried in 2018 when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord and began reimposing sanctions on Iran.

In his speech, Rouhani again denounced what he called the "psychological war" and "economic and medical terrorism" that he said the United States was waging against his country.

But he said the Iranian nation had stood up against "the enemy" and that its resistance had won.

The president praised his government's performance in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak as a source of "great pride", adding that Iran was "among the countries that have succeeded".

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