Khamenei to Iran officials: Don’t let polls distract you from \'major issues\'
TEHRAN - Iranian officials should not let this month's parliamentary polls distract them from building a strong economy, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday.
Speaking to hundreds of air force staff and officers, Khamenei said the February 26 election is crucial to preserving Iran's "integrity".
But "the elections should not distract officials from the major issues, (particularly) the economy," Khamenei said in comments broadcast on state television.
Building a strong economy will "discourage Iran's enemies from pursuing economic pressure and imposing their will" on the Islamic republic, he said, in an apparent reference to decades of international sanctions.
Nuclear-related sanctions on Iran were lifted last month, after UN inspectors said the Islamic republic had met commitments given under a deal last July to scale back its atomic programme.
Khamenei had warned against American "deceit" just days after the end of sanctions and on Monday he reiterated his concerns and called for "vigilance".
"The enemy smiles, you smile as well but vigilance (is needed to confront) the deceit that lies behind the enemy's smile," he said.
The February 26 parliamentary election will take place on the same day as the election of Iran's highest clerical body, the Assembly of Experts which monitors the work of the supreme leader.
Khamenei said it was every Iranian's "duty" to vote, saying the election "injects fresh blood and... guarantees the integrity and dignity of Iran and the system".
"That's why I insist that everyone should participate," he said.