Iran leader warns election agitators "will be hit with a slap"

Iranian cleric Ebrahim Raisi speaks in a press conference after registering his candidacy for the May 19 presidential elections at the Interior Ministry, in Tehran, Iran, April 14, 2017. 

AP

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's supreme leader says anyone trying to foment unrest around the country's upcoming presidential election, like that which followed the disputed 2009 vote, "will be hit with a slap."

Iranian state television quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as making the comment Wednesday during a graduation ceremony for cadets in Iran's Revolutionary Guard in Tehran.

Khamenei also referred to a "wealthy American Zionist merchant" trying to interfere in Iran's 2009 election in his comments, likely referring to liberal billionaire George Soros.

Iranians will go to the polls May 19. Moderate President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration struck the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, is seeking another four-year term.

Iran's disputed 2009 re-election of former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad led to months of unrest and dozens of deaths.