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Iranians bemoan sanctions hardship as vote approaches


(Reuters) - Each day that he struggles to buy food for his family, vegetable seller Hasan Sharafi shoulders part of the burden of Iran's defiance of the West over its nuclear programme. He can hardly bear it.

"Prices are going up every day, life is expensive. I buy chicken or meat once per month. I used to buy it twice per week," the father of four said in Iran's central city of Isfahan.

"Sometimes I want to kill myself. I feel desperate. I do not earn enough to feed my children."

With just a month to go before a parliamentary election, Iran has been hit hard in recent months by new U.S. and European economic sanctions over its nuclear programme, which Tehran says is peaceful but the West says is aimed at making a bomb.

In conversations in towns and cities across Iran, people complained of rapidly deteriorating economic conditions, likely to be the main issue in an election that exposes divisions between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and hardline opponents.

The last time Iranians voted, in a 2009 presidential election, Ahmadinejad's disputed victory triggered eight months of violent street demonstrations. The authorities successfully put down that uprising by force, but since then the Arab Spring has demonstrated the vulnerability of governments in the region to uprisings fuelled by anger over economic difficulty.

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