IRAN – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday called for a “year of unity” in a speech marking the 39th anniversary of the Islamic revolution after protests rocked the country last month, killing more than 20 people.

Rohani called on conservatives not to prevent reformist candidates from running in the future, stressing the need for greater confidence in the Iranian people.

“I ask that the 40th year of the revolution next year be a year of unity,” Rowhani told a huge crowd in Tehran. “I call on conservatives, reformers, moderates, all parties and people to stand together.”

Rohani, who won the 2013 and 2017 presidential elections with the support of reformists, was fiercely criticized by conservatives for his efforts to rebuild ties with the West and promote civil liberties.

“We have to trust the people, we have to allow all currents to participate in the elections,” he said.

“In the past 39 years, we have made progress in many areas, but at the same time there has been a shortfall” in some respects.

“There may have been a delay in making the decision, maybe we did not address our people with transparency,” he said.

The Guardian Council, dominated by conservatives, has the power to prevent candidates from running in the elections, where in the past hundreds of reformists have been banned from running for president and to the Shura Council.