1148 GMT April 01, 2020
The Popular Front of the Islamic Revolution Forces (PFIRF), a new umbrella group, said it had been agreed that the candidate who emerges as the frontrunner in the days ahead of the May 19 poll would contest the vote, while the other four would step aside.
PFIRF (JMNA in Persian) announced its candidates on Thursday during the second meeting of its national assembly held south of the capital, Tehran.
The standout among the five nominees is Hojjatoleslam Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, who is the current custodian of the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH) in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad.
Raeisi declared his readiness to run for president in the forthcoming presidential election, Seyyed Sowlat Mortazavi, his representative in the PFIRF meeting, said on Thursday.
“Raeisi has accepted the request to run as candidate [for president] and his plans will be announced soon,” said Mortazavi.
Raeisi has not previously shown a desire to be actively involved in politics. The 56-year-old cleric has held senior judicial positions, including prosecutor-general.
The PFIRF’s shortlist included Hojjatoleslam Raeisi, Alireza Zakani, a former lawmaker and vocal critic of the 2015 nuclear agreement, Mehrdad Bazrpash, also a former MP, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the current mayor of Tehran, who came second to Rouhani in the 2013 election, and Parviz Fattah, the current head of the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation.
The five were elected from a total of ten candidates, who had been chosen at the first meeting of the assembly, which was held at the same venue on February 23.
Meanwhile, certain right-wing figures like Saeed Jalili, former chief negotiator in the nuclear talks, and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s ally, Hamid Baqaei, will probably independently run for president.
Ahmadinejad has endorsed Baqaei, who served as his vice president, for the next month’s presidential election.
“I do not plan to run for president. I support Hamid Baqaei as the most qualified candidate,” Ahmadinejad said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Baqaei was the chief of staff and vice president for executive affairs during Ahmadinejad’s second term in office. He was also vice president and head of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization when Ahmadinejad was in office during his first term. Baqaei was arrested and jailed on corruption charges. He was released after several months of imprisonment. Ahmadinejad's first vice president Rahimi is in jail on corruption charges.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has advised Ahmadinejad, who was Iran’s president from 2005 to 2013, not to run for president in the election, saying that his candidacy could create polar divisions in the country.
The Guardian Council will announce later this month which candidates, both reformists and conservatives, are qualified to contest the elections.
Iranians will go to the polls on May 19 to take part in the country’s 12th presidential election.
Two major political camps are at the heart of Iran’s politics, which are known as Reformists and Conservatives. All other possible candidates not affiliated with any one of these two camps are considered as independent.
The previous presidential election in June 2013 saw Rouhani emerging victorious by garnering 50.7 percent of a total of over 36 million votes.
About 50.5 million Iranians were eligible to vote in the 11th presidential elections, while the voter turnout in the polls stood at 72.7 percent.