Iranian presidential candidates (L to R) Hassan Rouhani, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Eshaq Jahangiri and Ebrahim Raisi attend a live debate on state TV in Tehran on April 28, 2017. AFP / Mehdi DEHGHAN
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Hard-line conservative challengers accused Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in an election debate Friday of failing to revive the economy even after a diplomatic thaw with the West he has touted as the key to attracting new investment.During a three-hour debate carried live on state television, the pragmatist Rouhani's opponents sought to denigrate his economic record and said that the Islamic Republic would be harmed if he were re-elected on May 19 . Rouhani secured Iran's nuclear accord with world powers in 2015, welcomed by many Iranians, but discontent has risen over the lack of broad improvement in living standards despite the lifting of most international sanctions in 2016 under the deal.Khamenei and hard-line loyalists have heaped pressure on Rouhani, saying the diplomatic opening afforded by the nuclear deal had not yielded benefits promised by the president.The election will see Rouhani facing off against Raisi, conservative Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, ex-conservative Culture Minister Mostafa Mirsalim and reformist former Vice President Mostafa Hashemitaba.
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