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Raisi Campaigns on ‘Saving’ Iran, Asks Rouhani to Set Differences Aside | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iranian senior cleric Ebrahim Raisi gestures as he meets grand clerics in the holy city of Qom, Iran, in this handout photo believed to be taken in April 2016. Tasnim News Agency/Handout via REUTERS

London- After entering Iran’s presidential race with great momentum, conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi made a statement saying that the country must be ‘salvaged,’ and living conditions made better.

Addressing the current President Hassan Rouhani, Raisi advised his rival to set dispute aside and prioritize national unity.

The former prosecutor-general, after announcing his bid for president, said that he is taking-on current moderate President Rouhani to alter the detente policy with the West. Raisi drew out the suffering of Iranian’s under a Rouhani presidency which was accompanied with administrative corruption.

Government inability to meet the needs of Iranians and enforce the rule of law are two subject matters Raisi will be campaigning on.

A group of influential conservatives in Iran, operating under the umbrella coalition known as the Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces, or Jamna, held party conferences in the past weeks to shortlist their favorite nominees. Raisi received more votes than any other figure in their list of top five nominees, which also included the Tehran mayor, Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf. While all five might register as candidates, many are expected to drop out later in favor of Jamna’s final favorite.

Raisi entering the presidential drag race took Iranian media by storm. Conservative radio broadcasts and television channels focused on comparing Rouhani’s current ‘accommodating’ presidency to what a decisive Raisi leadership would be like. On the other hand, Rouhani’s leftist bloc showed great worry in the face of a united conservative party backing a single president.

Pro-Rouhani media pivoted its campaign on Raisi’s lack of experience in policymaking and administrative affairs.

“People are asking why despite all our resources and human talents …our country is in this situation,” Raisi said in a statement published by Iranian news agencies.

In his first electoral address, Raisi, 57, pledged to “confront corruption” and “solve problems” and “introduce change.”

“The first step in the right direction and away from current problems is to form a strong and qualified government that works day and night on combating discrimination, corruption and restoring the dignity of the Iranian people,” Raisi said.

Raisi disregarded the notion of Iran being in any real “trouble.” He said that the recipe to fix any current national challenges is to have a “drastic change in executive management.”