06:44 GMT04 April 2020
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    TEHRAN (Sputnik) - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday accused Western media of trying to discourage the country's population from casting their votes in the recent legislative election by using the coronavirus outbreak as a pretext.

    "This negative propaganda began several months ago, increasing as the election was moving closer. In the last two days, the media, under a pretext of the disease and the virus, used the slightest opportunity to discourage people from participating in the election," Khamenei said in a statement.

    The election took place under tough international circumstances as Iran is subject to sweeping US economic sanctions. According to experts, the election will decide the fate of the current government which depends on the win of the so-called reformers, supporting President Hassan Rouhani, instead of conservatives, who oppose his government.

    Early results reportedly showed on Saturday that an umbrella group of conservatives and hardliners was set to sweep the election, while the turnaround at the vote was low.

    On Friday, Iran elected parliament members among 7,000 candidates, approved by the Guardian Council of the Constitution, vying for 290 seats. On the election day, Iran confirmed 18 cases of the novel coronavirus in cities of Qom, Arak, Tehran, and Gilan, with four fatalities. The death toll subsequently grew to five as 10 new infections were confirmed.

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