Published: Пт, Мая 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Rivals unite to oust Rouhani as Iran election enters final days


One of the leading hard-line candidates for Iran's presidency withdrew from the race Monday, in a move aimed at consolidating the conservative vote before Friday's election.

"What is important and vital is to maintain the interests of the people, the country and (the Islamic) Revolution", Qalibaf said, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

Supporters of Iran's President Hassan Rouhani wave flags during a campaign rally in Tehran on May 9.

While it was clear that US President Barack Obama had sought an opening with Iran - he shook hands with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif behind closed doors in New York - Iran's leadership, in particular the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, never trusted the opposing side enough to allow discussions to go beyond the nuclear file.

Rouhani signed a landmark nuclear deal with world powers in 2015 that lifted many sanctions.

Seeking a second term, pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani, 68, remains the narrow favorite, but hardline rivals have hammered him over his failure to boost an economy weakened by decades of sanctions.

However, Qalibaf, a 55-year-old former Republic Guard air force commander and police chief, managed to turn the May 19 election into a three-way contest with a performance that had him only slightly trailing Raisi in the opinion polls.

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But she eventually chose to vote for Rouhani, she said, because former president Mohammad Khatami, spiritual leader of the pro-reform movement, had publicly backed him.

Reformist candidates and women were again excluded from the ballot by a clerical. The run-up to Iran's race is now between two conservative candidates, Ebrahim Raisi and Mostafa Mirsalim, in addition to two moderates: Rouhani and Mostafa Hashemitaba.

Most Iranians have yet to see the benefits of the nuclear deal.

He said those forces were telling voters they should fear the scenario of Rouhani's reelection, because the outgoing president plans to cut off all financial aids meant to citizens.

With President Rouhani's economic record under attack from both Qalibaf and Raisi, the election campaign has grown increasingly bitter and confrontational in the past week. He was deputy head of the judiciary for 10 years before being appointed in 2014 as Iran's prosecutor-general.

Eshaq Jahangiri, senior vice president under Rouhani, dropped out, leaving just four candidates in the race. He is a cleric who represents the moderate or reform wing of Iranian politics. It also suggests that Iran's election will be decided in the first round, which requires the victor to get over 50 percent of the total vote. Raisi has promised a return to the values of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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