Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that the government's economic policies have fallen short and that Iran needs a new "resistance economy" to create jobs.
Khamenei coined the term "resistance economy" to describe measures to aimed at making Iran's economy more self-sufficient, compared to President Hassan Rohani's policy of seeking to open Iran to more international trade and investment.
Khamenei's March 20 remarks have piled pressure on Rohani ahead of an election in May.
Hard-liners led by Khamenei have repeatedly criticized Rohani for the terms of a nuclear deal he reached with world powers that lifted international economic sanctions and was supposed to boost Iran's economy.
In a message marking Norouz, the Persian New Year, Khamenei said he felt "the pain of the poor and lower-class people with my soul, especially because of high prices, unemployment, and inequalities."
He said Rohani's government "has taken positive steps but they do not meet people's expectations and mine."
Rohani's Norouz message highlighted economic achievements of his government and called for citizens' rights to be respected.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AP