Iranian candidate says nuclear deal failed to lift sanctions

Nick Mcbride
April 24, 2017

In a Thursday report, Iranian state television said the country's 12-member Guardian Council has vetted and approved six candidates to compete in the May 19 presidential vote, most notably the relatively moderate incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, and prominent conservative Ebrahim Raisi, appointed past year as custodian of one of Iran's holiest shrines by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Referring to the upcoming presidential elections, President Rouhani said it is "our duty to encourage people to go to the ballot boxes and we hope to witness another epic" much greater than the former round of presidential election campaign.

Campaigning officially started on Friday, April 21, for Iran's May presidential election, pitting pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani against hardliners just as the USA reassesses its policy on the Islamic Republic.

There has been uproar over a decision by the election commission to ban live TV debates, seen by some as an attempt to prevent embarrassment to some of the candidates or the regime as a whole.

Some think he may drop out at the last minute in favour of Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who came second to Rouhani in 2013.

Mr Karroubi and Mr Mousavi have been under house arrest since 2011 for leading protests against the re-election of Mr Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad's disqualification by the conservative-run Guardian Council was no surprise - he had been advised not to run by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who said it would "polarise" the nation.

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Ahmadinejad was president from 2005 to 2013, and was best known overseas for his incendiary rhetoric toward Israel, his questioning of the scale of the Holocaust and his efforts to ramp up Iran's nuclear program.

Iranian police fanned out across Tehran's main squares overnight after the names of the candidates were announced, according to videos posted on social media.

The powerful Guardian Council last week blocked Ahmadinejad from running for another term. He remains popular among the poor sections of the society, who liked his populist policies such as distributing monthly cash handouts.

The election will be in many ways a referendum on his administration's negotiation of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Rouhani won a landslide victory in 2013 on a platform of ending Iran's diplomatic isolation and reviving the country's crippling sanction-hit economy.

US officials who have been toughening their stance toward Iran in recent weeks have said nearly nothing about its presidential election, now less than one month away.

All six candidates are set to take part in the first debate on Friday. r Rouhani is the front-runner.

Other reports by VgToday

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