After days of deliberation, reformist Mohammad Reza Aref withdrew from the Presidential race last night in favour of the moderate Hassan Rouhani for this Friday’s first-round vote.
Aref’s decision came after a 10-person committee, backed by former President Mohammad Khatami, recommended the coalition. Other leading reformists called for a unified effort to get a man from outside the camp of the principlists — who have dominated Iranian politics, especially amid the crackdown following the 2009 Presidential election — into the final run-off on 21 June.
Now the questions are established for the next three days:
1. How effective will the moderate-reformist coalition be in attracting and organising voter turn-out?
2. Will the principlists, including the Supreme Leader’s camp, finally overcome squabbling for some version of “unity” before Friday?
3. If not, which of the principlists — Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, Supreme Leader advisor Saeed Jalili, or Secretary of the National Security Council Saeed Jalili — will be the strongest in the first-round ballot and move to the run-off?
Ahmadinejad Declares: Government Not Backing Any Candidate
Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told ISNA on Tuesday morning that he has only one vote in the June 14 Presidential election. Ahmadinejad added that ‘neither the Government nor myself are supporting any particular candidate’.
Ahmadinejad’s right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, was disqualified from standing in the elections by the Guardian Council. Ahmadinejad has remained on the sidelines, and his administration has not thrown its weight behind any of the six candidates remaining in the race.
Mohammad Reza Sajjadi, Iran’s Ambassador to Russia, has told Moscow that Tehran will not be accepting the proposed offer of the Tor anti-aircraft system as a substitute for the S-300 missile system that had previously been offered.
In 2007, Russia agreed to supply at least five S-300 missile systems but President Dmitry Medvedev cancelled the sale on the grounds that it violated UN Security Council sanctions against Iran. Russia then offered the Tor system as a replacement for the S-300.
Tehran responded by suing Moscow in the International Court of Arbitration for $950 million of compensation.
Jalili’s Monday Rally
Abas Aslani of Fars News posts this picture of cCandidate Saeed Jalili beung greeted by his father during a rally on Monday in his hometown of Mashhad:
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