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Imam Khomeini's Grandson Calls on Iranians to Back Rouhani

Imam Khomeini's Grandson Calls on Iranians to Back Rouhani

Vice president and presidential contender, Es'haq Jahangiri, announced on Tuesday he has dropped out in favor of incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, urging his backers to turn out in large numbers to give Rouhani a stronger mandate to press ahead with his plans to bolster the economy and promote social freedoms. It is likely others will drop out to solidify support for other candidates, especially as one of them is serving as vice president in Rouhani's government.

Another prominent conservative, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, withdrew from the race on Monday and backed Raisi, uniting the hardline faction and giving Raisi's chances a boost. All candidates must be vetted by a hardline body.

Raisi and Ghalibaf have criticized Rouhani for not delivering on the promises he made when his administration signed the nuclear deal with the United States and other major powers.

The main challenger Raisi is a close ally and protege of Khamenei, and was one of four Islamic judges who ordered the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. The polls show he is seen as far more capable than his challengers both to improve Iran's foreign relations (55 percent for Rouhani, 22 percent Ghalibaf, and 6 percent Raisi) and to remove global sanctions (48 percent Rouhani, 21 percent Ghalibaf, 7 percent Raisi).

"Iranian ethnic and religious groups are an inseparable part of the country's history and land", Raisi said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.

Nevertheless, elections are fiercely contested and can bring about change within the system of rule overseen by Shi'a Muslim clerics.

"The leverage of my power does not possess some things, but some things will be possible with a vote of more than 51 percent", he said during a campaign stop in western Iran.

That past has anxious moderates and reformists in Iran. Further splitting the hard-liners, Rouhani's clerical credentials could help win over some conservative-leaning voters.

If both Ghalibaf and Raisi stay in the race, the already small hard-line base will split their votes among both candidates in the first round, possibly giving Rouhani an easy lead. "Rouhani's camp has lost an easy target to beat up on". Rouhani's supporters used Telegram to bypass the country's censorship, because Iran's media has been banned for over two years from publishing the name or images of Khatami himself.

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

Raisi's candidacy has fueled speculation he is being lined up to succeed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 77.


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