Iran's Sunni leader endorses Rouhani for re-election


A leading figure of Iran's minority Sunnis endorsed moderate President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday ahead of this week's election, despite the government's "shortcomings".

Sunnis make up around five to 10 percent of Iran's 80 million population, which is overwhelmingly from the Shia sect of Islam.

Religious leader Molavi Abdol Hamid said "the atmosphere for Sunnis has been a little more relaxed" since Rouhani took power in 2013 and that most would support him in Friday's election. Abdol Hamid repeated calls for greater Sunni representation in local and national government and more action on discrimination.

"The Sunni community believes that this government, despite its problems and weaknesses, has had more strong points and we hope if the current government takes office again, it will do more to resolve those problems and shortcomings," he said in comments carried by his website.

He was speaking in Sistan Baluchistan province, a Sunni-majority region in south-eastern Iran bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Rouhani is leading in official polls, but faces a tough fight for re-election against conservative rivals who accuse him of failing to boost the struggling economy.    (AFP)

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