Raisi Offends Iranian Government

FILE PHOTO: Iranian Presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf gesture during a campaign meeting at the Mosalla mosque in Tehran

London- Ten days after the presidential elections, repercussions of the electoral campaigns still threaten of wider divisions in Tehran. On Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was offended by his rivals: defeated presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi and head of Judiciary Sadeq Larijani.

In his first speech after losing the elections, Raisi said on Sunday that Rouhani’s government has committed huge violations through tampering the elections.

“I ask the Guardian Council and the judiciary not to let the people’s rights get trampled. If this vote-tampering is not looked into, then the people’s trust will be damaged,” said Raisi.

He lost the presidential competition for 16 million votes compared to 23 million votes to Rouhani.

Rouhani criticized last week the Guardian Council and the Ministry of Interior for not allowing four million Iranians to participate in the presidential elections, considering those who did not participate supporters of him.

Raisi, on the other hand, accused Rouhani of having inappropriately used TV, newspapers and government offices for campaign purposes throughout the five months, preceding the elections.

Official authorities in Iran describe the protests that took place in 2009 after the presidential elections as riot – protests spurred when the two reform candidates claimed that election results were forged for the advantage of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad.

In his last speech before the voting, Rouhani accused Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and the judiciary of interfering in the Iranian elections in favor of Raisi.

Iran’s Interior Ministry Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli slammed the doubts being raised about the election integrity and responded to Raisi that elections were “integral and legal”.

Investigation results are expected to be announced today by the Guardian Council on the electoral violations.

Wariness in Tehran Ahead of Presidential Results

London- An atmosphere of caution prevails in Iran after voters headed to the polls on Friday to elect their 12th president amid a tight fight between incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and his main challenger Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric and former prosecutor-general.

During more than 10 hours, Iranians cast their votes at some 63,500 polling stations inside the country.

Speaking in a televised interview on Friday night, Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli called on people to ignore the rumors and unverified figures about the outcome of election before the official results of the presidential race are officially announced on Saturday.

For his part, Farhad Tajarri, the spokesman for the central committee tasked with monitoring the elections, said around 20 million people have cast their votes in the country’s twin elections before the voting operation was extended two more hours.

Also, Iranian regime’s Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi called on media outlets to avoid spreading false information about the elections and not to speculate on the results.

Meanwhile, Iranians awaited on Saturday to uncover the identity of the winner, expected to either be the pragmatic Rouhani or the hardliner Raisi.

Four eligible candidates ran in Friday’s elections: two conservatives, Raisi and Mostafa Mirsalim, in addition to two moderates, Rouhani and Mostafa Hashemitaba.

Two candidates had announced pulling out from the race: Tehran’s hardline mayor, Mohammed Baqer Ghalibaf, who pledged his support for Raisi and Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, a reformist supporting Rouhani.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the votes, a run-off will be held next week.

In addition to the presidential election, Iranian voters also participated in the Village Councils Elections, which started simultaneously at 08:00 am local time.

On Friday, Iran did not allow foreign journalists and international monitors to enter its territories to monitor the presidential polls.

However, government agencies said that the authorities allowed some foreign media outlets to cover the elections by only being present in specific locations.

Iran Elections to Decide Future of Engagement with the West

Held on Friday May 19, Iran’s presidential election is effectively a tight two-horse race between moderate incumbent Hassan Rouhani and hardline jurist Ebrahim Raisi, with major implications threatening relations with Washington.

Whoever wins the presidential vote will influence not only Iran’s immediate future but also the battle to choose a new supreme leader, who will rule for life.

Rouhani is still seen as the frontrunner, but he faces a tougher than expected challenge from Raisi, who has rallied religious traditionalists and working-class voters angered by the stagnant economy.

But if Raisi wins, it would almost certainly bring to an abrupt halt Iran’s engagement with the west, and ultimately doom the 2015 nuclear agreement – even though the enduring popularity of the deal means he did not directly attack it during the bitter campaign.

More so, Raisi has pushed his charitable credentials as head of the powerful Imam Reza foundation and vowed more support for the poor.

Raisi has attacked the Rouhani government for his “weak” stance during negotiations and for having failed to cash in on the deal.

“We should not show any weakness in the face of the enemy,” he said in a televised debate, raising the possibility that he could deepen already worsening tensions with Washington.

If Rouhani does lose, it would be a first, as all previous presidents since Ayatollah Ali Khamenei became supreme leader in 1989 have been returned to office for a second term.

In Iran, the president has considerable influence – even though he is always constrained by the supreme leader, who has control of a range of unelected military and religious bodies.

Iran: Supreme Leader’s Choice Faces Test of Ballot Boxes

London- Iranians headed to the polls on Friday to choose their 12th President among four contenders.

The race, however, is expected to be limited to a reformist, incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, and his main challenger, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric and former prosecutor-general.

Raisi’s candidacy is twice more delicate for being supported by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his linked apparatuses, such as the “Revolutionary Guards” and the judiciary.

Four eligible candidates out of the six chosen by the Iranian Guardian Council, are running in Friday’s elections – Conservative candidates Raisi and Mostafa Mirsalim, in addition to Rouhani and Mostafa Hashemitaba, who are moderates.

Earlier, two candidates announced pulling out from the race: First, Tehran’s hardline mayor Mohammed Baqer Ghalibaf, who pledged his support for Raisi, and then Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, a reformist supporting Rouhani.

According to some reports, Raisi, who might replace Khamanei as the next supreme leader, entered the presidential race to enhance his chances for later winning the seat of the number one man in the regime.

Friday’s elections come following long campaigns that saw unprecedented verbal attacks mainly between Rouhani and Raisi, who exchanged accusations on corruption, administrative and human rights violations and the economic and social crisis that has lately hit Iran.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the votes, a run-off will be held next week.

But, Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli expected the presidential race be settled during the first round.

Meanwhile, Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri, head of the auditing office of Khamenei, announced on Friday his resignation amid reports that his decision could be linked to a “a dismissal rather than a resignation.”

Last week, Nouri publicly endorsed Rouhani for the election.

Iran VP Jahangiri Withdraws Bid for Presidential Elections, Supports Rouhani

Iran’s reformist first vice president, Eshaq Jahangiri, on Tuesday pulled out of this week’s presidential election and endorsed the incumbent, Hassan Rouhani, ISNA news agency reported.

Jahangiri’s decision comes one day after Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf withdrew from the race, paving the way for a head-to-head battle between Rouhani and conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi.

“I will vote for Mr Rouhani in the presidential election,” Jahangiri said as he announced he was withdrawing his candidacy.

“I have completed my historic duty and, together with you, I will vote for Rouhani to help continue on the path to progress for this country,” he told a crowd of several thousand people gathered in the southern city of Shiraz.

“Vote for Rouhani because he is the man for difficult situations… I ran as candidate to make the voice of reformists heard,” said Jahangiri.

Jahangiri, a 60-year-old confidante of the moderate president, was a surprise last-minute entry for Friday’s election.

It was assumed Jahangiri ran to back up Rouhani in pre-election debates and he said at his registration that he stood “side-by-side” with the president who is seeking a second four-year mandate.

Iran: Raisi Registers for Election with Entourage of ‘Mothers Who Lost Their Children to War’

Iranian cleric Ebrahim Raisi gestures after registering his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections at the ministry of the interior in Tehran on April 14, 2017

London- On the eve of closing candidate registration for Iran’s upcoming May presidential elections, current President Hassan Rouhani and his chief conservative rival, Ebrahim Raisi, submitted their bids.

Raisi, 56, is a hardline cleric known for his ultra-conservative stances and great proximity with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He arrived at the registration committee center for presenting his candidacy papers a few hours after ‘moderate’ Rouhani had applied in hopes of winning over a second term in office.

Raisi showed up at the center accompanied by a number of mothers who had lost their children to wars fought by Iran, said Tehran-based media outlet Tasnim.

When presented with a copy of the Quran and Iran’s flag, Raisi accepted the gesture before dozens of flashing cameras that documented every step of him submitting his documents, but he made no statements, Tasnim added.

However, a few days earlier, Raisi said that his candidacy is an effort to salvage the country from ‘chronic structural disease’ and incorrect administrative traditions.

Raisi is a hardline judge who spent years in powerful backroom positions before emerging as a leading challenger for Iran’s presidential election next month.

In 1985, he became a deputy prosecutor at the Revolutionary Court of Tehran in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war when thousands of political prisoners were executed.

Raisi spent a decade as head of the Inspection Office from 1993, followed by 10 years as deputy head of the judiciary. In 2006, he was elected to the Assembly of Experts that has powers to choose the next supreme leader, and now sits on its board of directors.

In 2012, he became a prosecutor in the Special Court of Clerics, charged with disciplining the clergy, and spent two years as Iran’s nationwide prosecutor-general from 2013 to 2015.

In March 2016, he was appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to head Astan Qods Razavi, a charitable foundation overseeing the Imam Reza shrine, as well as a huge business conglomerate with interests in everything from IT and banking to construction and agriculture.

Earlier this week, Iran’s election commission had announced two days ago that the number of candidates has exceeded 950 candidates, most notably – other than Rouhani and Raisi – is the contentious ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his former deputy Hamid Baghaei.

Tehran’s conservative Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf is also among the high-profile candidates. Despite the dashing number, the vetting committee, known by the Guardian Council, will only authorize a few candidates whose names are announced by the Interior Ministry within two weeks to officially run for president.

Iran’s Rouhani Registers to Run in May for Second Term

FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a news conference near the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who championed the country’s nuclear deal with world powers, registered on Friday to run for re-election next month, state TV reported.

Rouhani, who won election by a landslide in 2013, faces a tougher than expected battle for a second term on May 19 as criticism mounts over the continued stagnation of the economy.

The president appeared in the afternoon at the interior ministry, where registration to stand for the election runs until Saturday. The five-day registration period for the May 19 election started on Tuesday and will be followed by a process of vetting of the hopefuls by a hardline watchdog body, The Guardian Council.

Over 860 people have signed up so far for the vote.

Several former ministers and hardliner former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are among those who have registered.

Despite months of talks, hardliners remain divided, and Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appears to have not yet intervened.

Within Iran’s complex mix of clerical rulers and elected officials, Khamenei has the final say on all state matters.

Influential cleric Ebrahim Raisi, the custodian of a powerful organization in charge of Iran’s holiest shrine, appears to be the leading hardline candidate.

Raisi, 56, visited the interior ministry later on Friday to register for the 12th presidential election. Prominent conservatives, including parliament speaker Ali Larijani, have thrown their support behind Rouhani.

The conservative-controlled Guardian Council will vet the hundreds of registered hopefuls over the

Raisi Campaigns on ‘Saving’ Iran, Asks Rouhani to Set Differences Aside

Iranian senior cleric Ebrahim Raisi gestures as he meets grand clerics in the holy city of Qom

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.”