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Five Conservatives Running against Rouhani in Iran’s Presidential Polls | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A woman casts her vote in the first round of the Iranian presidential elections in 2013. (AFP)

London – The final electoral lists are taking shape in Iran’s upcoming presidential polls after the conservatives unveiled five preliminary candidates and former General Prosecutor Ebrahim al-Raisi announced his candidacy.

During a press conference on Thursday, the conservative “Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces” (PFIRF) announced its electoral platform that will compete against President Hassan Rouhani, whom they accused of “mismanagement.” Only one of the five candidates will eventually run in the polls.

Raisi meanwhile put an end on Thursday to speculation on whether he will run for president. Conflicting reports have however emerged on whether he will compete as a conservative or as an independent.

Fars news agency said that he will run as an independent and that he will unveil his platform in a few days. Reports also spoke of disputes between Raisi and PFIRF in wake of his absence from the press conference that unveiled the candidates. His representative said he could not attend the event due to an earthquake that had struck the Khorasan region earlier this week.

Raisi’s announcement was made by Mashhad Mayor Sowlat Mortazavi on the margins of the PFIRF’s conference.

PFIRF is considered a grouping that is close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The head of the front said that it will reveal its final presidential candidate in the upcoming days, reported Mehr news agency.

Hopefuls can register their candidacy between April 11 and 15. Rouhani is expected to be the only moderate-reformist candidate and is seeking a second term as head of state.

Raisi’s running for the elections is seen as a significant development because he is considered the main candidate to succeed Supreme Leader Ayotallah Ali Khamenei.

He served as deputy parliament speaker between 2005 and 2015 before acting as general prosecutor in 2015 and 2016. He was then appointed by Khamenei as head of the Astan Quds Razavi, the greatest religious-economic foundation in the country that does not pay taxes.

Raisi had declared in March that he was not seeking to run for president. A few days ago however, over 50 members of the Assembly of Experts sent a letter to Khamenei demanding that he back Raisi’s candidacy. A campaign demanding that Raisi run in the polls was also launched by conservatives and the revolutionary guards.

Iranian observers have however voiced their concern over Raisi’s running due to his judicial record, especially in light of the executions in the summer of 1988.