Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Iran's Rouhani enters presidential race

Rouhani's hardline critics accuse him of having encouraged moral corruption in society by advocating social tolerance. Iran's Guardian Council of clerics and jurists vets all applicants and will announce an approved list of candidates by April 27.

"Rouhani is a regime insider".

Rouhani, a former top security official, also said that major powers have always sought their interests in the Middle East region and have undermined regional security and stability.

The president's constitutional powers are limited. He reportedly enjoys the support of Supreme Leader Khamenei, the highest authority in the state.Mr. Ahmadinejad, also firmly placed in the conservative camp, could split the hardline vote, Hossein Rassam, a former adviser to the British Foreign Office, told Radio Free Europe.

There was no immediate reaction from the supreme leader's office.

As reported by The Indian Express, the question was raised for two reasons, the first being the announcement at the beginning of Trump's reign that Iran was being "put on notice" in regards to their frequent missile tests, and second the execution of said airstrike on Syria at the hands of the United States government. "However he has no choice but to play such a role". He said he would run as an "independent" and described himself as a "soldier" of Iran. The latter will choose the country's next supreme leader.

The upcoming vote will be seen, among other things, as a referendum on the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, under which Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of global sanctions.

For now, Raisi has focused on domestic economic issues, playing to the conservative base among poorer, more religious voters.

The presidency could provide a stepping stone to the top - as it was for Khamenei in the 1980s.

Vetting starts today by the Guardian Council, an all-male body of 12 jurists and clerics who are close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, which must approve all candidates before any elections.

But insiders said disqualifying a sitting president might be very costly for the establishment, especially given a hostile USA administration in Washington.

A bill to impose new sanctions on Iran over ballistic missile launches and other non-nuclear activities has been delayed in the U.S. Senate due to concerns about the presidential election. The benefits have yet to trickle down to the average Iranian, though, fueling some discontent.

He is considered a close ally of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who previous year appointed him to run the powerful charity-cum-business-empire Astan Qods Razavi (AQR), which oversees the Imam Reza shrine in the holy city of Mashhad.

Rouhani says much has improved and more time will allow him to produce an economic turnaround.

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