TEHRAN, June 8 (UPI) -- Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani says political smear tactics and chicanery are affecting this week's elections.
With elections set for Friday, Rafsanjani, in an unprecedented appeal, Sunday called for a public information campaign to end what he says is an epidemic of underhanded campaigning and attempts to undermine the integrity of the election, Iran's Press TV reported.
"Unfortunately the course of the election has become tainted with all sorts of lies and slanderous statements," Rafsanjani said. "Smear tactics against individuals may be eventually pardoned and excused, but when they step out of line and target the basic principles of the Islamic Revolution they become unforgivable."
The former president's comments come after a highly unusual war of words between incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is seeking re-election, and political rivals. During a debate with challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad broke a political taboo by claiming Rafsanjani and fellow former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami were corrupt, Press TV said.
He also reportedly accused Rafsanjani of slander and former Parliament speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri of large-scale financial corruption.
Tehran was at a virtual standstill for a time Monday as a result of two huge political demonstrations, staged by backers of Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, The New York Times reported. Political observers called the demonstrations the largest of their kind in more than 10 years.
Political commentator Mashalah Shamsolvaezin told the newspaper: "This is an expression of protest and dissatisfaction by people. They are venting their frustration and feeling very powerful."