Iranian First Vice-President withdraws candidacy in Iran's presidential race

Iranian First Vice-President withdraws candidacy in Iran's presidential race

On Monday, however, Tehran's mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a conservative candidate said in a statement that he decides to withdraw from the presidential race to back another candidate Ebrahim Raisi, who is also a conservative nominee.

This in effect could give the likes of Raeisi a well-orchestrated and strong bogey against the reformists club that backs Rouhani, which now includes the likes of former president Mohammad Khatami, a pro-reforms leader himself who led the Iranian government from 1997 until 2005.

Mr Raisi is a close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ahead of presidential and city council elections in Iran scheduled for Friday May 19, hundreds of people from all walks of life met with Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday in Tehran.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of votes cast, the top two candidates will compete in a runoff election on May 26.

The election is being largely viewed as a referendum on the 2015 nuclear deal struck with world powers led by Rouhani's administration.

"The nuclear issue is not decided by the president and the future of the deal will depend on the Trump administration which is trying to change Iran's behaviour with the threat of force", said Thermes. Every Iranian president since 1981 has won a second term. Even Ayatollah Khamenei often took to Twitter; the social media site banned for common Iranian citizens, to threaten the U.S. even as Iranian delegations were in Vienna, Austria, negotiating the agreements.

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Meanwhile, one day after Iranian opposition figure Mehdi Karoubi had announced his support for Rouhani, another reformist leader Mirhossein Mousavi, who is under house arrest since February 2011, also said he would participate in the elections and vote for Rouhani. Iranians, who in the last few years put all their hopes for a better economic situation on the nuclear deal, are now facing an escalating rhetoric from the new United States administration.

All this has been a boon for Rouhani's conservative opponents, who say the government has failed to cash in on the nuclear deal and ignored the plight of the poor.

Five candidates, including incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, are running in the race.

Iranian voters are set to cast ballot in the country's presidential election on Friday. It is increasingly hard for Rouhani to sell the deal to voters now given Trump's rhetoric.

Seeking a second term, pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani, 68, remains the narrow favorite, but hardline rivals have hammered him over his failure to boost an economy weakened by decades of sanctions.

Referring to the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, by its Persian acronym, BARJAM, Rouhani said, "We established a bridge between Iran and the world with BARJAM". It was Khamenei who past year appointed Raisi, 56, to manage the Astan Quds Razavi, an Islamic charity that controls assets worth billions of dollars, as well as the Imam Reza shrine in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad.

That past has anxious moderates and reformists in Iran. So no matter who becomes Iran's next president, they will try and keep this nuclear agreement.

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