'What a spectacle!' Iran mocks US democracy amid election uncertainty
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei mocked the US presidential election process, quoting President Donald Trump's baseless claims about voter fraud.
"What a spectacle!" Khamenei tweeted late on Wednesday. "One says this is the most fraudulent election in US history. Who says that? The president who is currently in office."
Roughly 36 hours after the last polling stations closed in the US state of Alaska, the battle for the White House remains undecided, with Trump trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden by 50 electoral votes.
Trump, seeing that he is losing in states he won in 2016, has caused widespread anxiety with allegations that his rival is trying to "steal the election", calling for polling stations to halt counting the remaining votes.
Biden's campaign team, on the other hand, has accused Trump of seeking to deny the electoral rights of tens of millions of voters who sent in their ballots in by mail.
"His rival says Trump intends to rig the election! This is how #USElections & US democracy are," Khamenei said.
The deepening polarisation of American politics since Trump's shocking election victory in 2016 has drawn expressions of concern even from several European allies, including Germany, which warned of a "very explosive situation" in the aftermath of polls closing.
Despite Washington's allegations that Tehran attempted to influence the election through social media, Iran’s leadership has publicly insisted it favours neither candidate, despite the difference in their approach to the Islamic Republic.
'Surrender to the Iranian people'
The Trump administration, filled with Iran hawks, has led a campaign of "maximum pressure" against Tehran, pulling the US out of the Iran nuclear deal with world powers and reimposing sanctions that have crippled the country's economy.
The sanctions have led to a sharp devaluation of Iran's currency and high inflation, and in some cases restricted access to medicine, medical equipment, and other humanitarian goods.
Biden has said he is ready to return to the nuclear agreement that was put together during his time as vice president under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.
Still, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that Iran will not be pressured into renegotiating the deal and will adhere to compliance only if the US lifts all sanctions. This message was directed not at Biden or Trump, but the country at large.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has also said that Iran will not depend on one outcome or another in the US elections, but would prepare for the worst.
Rouhani on Thursday said the next president will have to give in to the needs of Iran, not the other way around.
"The US election results might be known by tonight or tomorrow and we will know who won, but it’s not important," he said.
"Whoever takes office, the next government with no doubt will surrender to the Iranian people."