Iran's former president Ahmadinejad challenges Rouhani to debate
Former Iranian president Mahmood Ahmadinejad's debate invitation was reportedly "welcomed" by Rouhani under the condition that the former president respects the truth during the debate (File Archive)
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Former Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad called on current president Hassan Rouhani Tuesday to debate "baseless and unfair" allegations that he is responsible for Iran's dire economic situation, according to Reuters.
Ahmadinejad's invitation comes in response to Rouhani's comments during a televised speech last week where he accused Ahmadinejad's "profligacy and mismanagement" as much of a cause for the country's inflation and currency devaluation as international sanctions. Rouhani specifically mentioned the issue of Iran's $67 billion debt as evidence that the country's finances were mismanaged, further citing Iran's $600 billion in oil revenues under Ahmadinejad's tenure.
In a letter to Rouhani, the former president called Rouhani's comments as "factually incorrect" that could lead to "misguided decision-making." Ahmadinejad also invited Rouhani to the aforementioned debate in the letter in order to "clear up ambiguities and subject the facts to scrutiny in a friendly atmosphere and frank debate."
One of Rouhani's advisers told reporters that Iran's president "welcomed" the invitation under the condition that the former president "respect[ed] the truth" during the debate.
Though Ahmadinejad enjoyed popularity early in his term among the religious right and the poor, he later lost Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's support and favor, and many members of the public today accuse him of "reckless spending" and "poor fiscal management."
Last week, the former president also failed to attend a scheduled court appearance regarding charges associated with his economic management and performance while serving as president.