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Khamenei says mismanagement hurts Iran more than US sanctions

Ankara

IRAN'S Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the government on Monday of economic mismanagement and said it needed to improve its performance to help the country better weather newly reimposed US sanctions.

Washington reimposed strict sanctions against Iran last Tuesday and President Donald Trump has threatened to penalise firms from other countries that continue to operate in the Islamic Republic. Iran has denounced the sanctions as "US unilateralism".

"More than the sanctions, economic mismanagement (by the government) is putting pressure on ordinary Iranians ... I do not call it betrayal but a huge mistake in management," Iranian state TV quoted Mr Khamenei as saying, in his first reaction to the reimposition of US sanctions.

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"With better management and planning we can resist the sanctions and overcome them," Mr Khamenei said.

Iran's rial currency has lost about half of its value since April in anticipation of the renewed US sanctions, driven mainly by heavy demand for dollars among ordinary Iranians trying to protect their savings.

Iranian officials have blamed "enemies" for the fall of the currency and a rapid rise in the price of gold coins, and more than 60 people, including several officials, have been arrested on charges that carry the death penalty.

"The fall of the rial and the increase in gold coin prices are major economic problems... The corrupt people (officials) should be punished firmly," Mr Khamenei said told a gathering attended by thousands of Iranians, state TV reported.

Mr Khamenei on Saturday called for "swift and just" legal action by new courts set up to tackle corruption after the head of the judiciary said Iran was facing an "economic war", Iranian media reported. REUTERS