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AFP
November 18, 2019

Khamenei backs petrol price hike

World

AFP
November 18, 2019

TEHRAN: Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday threw his support behind a decision to hike petrol prices, a move that sparked nationwide unrest in which he said "some lost their lives".

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed "hooligans" for damaging property and said "all the centres of the world’s wickedness against us have cheered" the street protests. A policeman was killed in the western city of Kermanhshah in a clash with armed "rioters", the second confirmed death since protests erupted across Iran on Friday.

Several people were also wounded and dozens arrested in two days of demonstrations that saw motorists block highways and others attack and set fire to public property. In a speech aired on state television, Khamenei said "some lost their lives and some centres were damaged".

The protests flared hours after it was announced that the price of petrol would be raised by 50 percent for the first 60 litres (16 gallons) and by 300 percent for anything above that each month.

It is a rise many consumers can ill afford, given that Iran’s economy has been battered since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions.

The rial has plummeted, inflation is running at more than 40 percent and the International Monetary Fund expects Iran’s economy to contract by 9.5 percent this year and stagnate in 2020.

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