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Ahmadinejad arrested for inciting protests
Former Iranian President reportedly arrested after attending rally in which he publicly criticized the government.
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been arrested by Iranian authorities, the Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, which is based in Britain, reported Saturday.
According to the report, Ahmadinejad is accused of inciting anti-government protests. He had reportedly attended a rally in which he publicly criticized the government.
“Some of the current officials live away from the problems of the people and concerns, and do not know anything about the reality of society,” the former Iranian president was quoted as having said at an anti-government rally.
“What Iran suffers from today is mismanagement and not lack of economic resources,” he charged.
“The government of [current President] Hassan Rouhani believes that they own the land and that the people are an ignorant society that does not know,” Ahmadinejad reportedly said. “The people are angry at this government because of its monopoly on public wealth.”
Anti-government protests have been going on in Iran over the last week. A total of 21 people have died and hundreds have been arrested since they started on December 28.
Rouhani, who is touted as a “moderate” reformist, won a second term in office last May thanks in part to his promise of rebuilding the economy, shattered by years of sanctions and maladministration.
While he has succeeded in bringing inflation down to single digits from highs of more than 40 percent under Ahmadinejad, the economy is still struggling from lack of investment, with unemployment officially at 12 percent and likely much higher in real terms.
Ahmadinejad, who had sought to run against Rouhani in the last election, was barred from doing so by Iran’s Guardian Council, which is in charge of vetting presidential candidates.
In 2013, several months after Rouhani was elected to his first term, Ahmadinejad challenged his successor to a debate after Rouhani took aim at Ahmadinejad’s stewardship of Iran’s economy while he was president.