Iran presidential race: candidates make last-ditch effort to win Kurdish votes

Iran presidential race: candidates make last-ditch effort to win Kurdish votes

Iran presidential race: candidates make last-ditch effort to win Kurdish votes

"I am withdrawing my candidacy for the presidential election in favor of Reisi", Ghalibaf said in a statement.

Tehran's mayor has dropped out of Iran's presidential election, allowing hardliners to a coalesce around a powerful conservative in the fight against the reformist-backed incumbent, Hassan Rouhani.

Iran's reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami on Sunday endorsed President Hassan Rouhani in a video message, calling on voters to give him another term in this week's election.

Hard-line candidate Ebrahim Raisi also accused Rouhani of blocking a corruption probe against his relatives.

"I ask all my popular supporters across the country to use all their potential and support for the success of our respectable brother, Ebrahim Raisi", he said. A survey by the state-affiliated Iranian Students Polling Agency last week showed the potential implications: support for Rouhani was at 42 percent, with Raisi on 27 percent and Qalibaf at 25 percent. The main battleground between the two factions is the selection of a successor for the Supreme Leader, in which the "reformers" have no chance given that their most prominent candidate, Hashemi Rafsanjani, a founder of the regime and former president, had a mysterious heart attack just few months ago.

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The former prosecutor is now head of a multi-billion-dollar charitable foundation that manages donations to Iran's holiest shrine in the city of Mashhad.

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That's exactly the kind of voter Rouhani needs to inspire.

The president has faced a significant challenge from conservatives because the landmark nuclear deal with world powers that he negotiated in 2015 has not triggered the economic recovery he predicted.

Rouhani, a pragmatist cleric, was elected in 2013 by 51 per cent of votes on promises to ease Iran's global isolation and end the house arrest of opposition leaders. It also suggests that Iran's election will be decided in the first round, which requires the victor to get over 50 percent of the total vote. Rouhani added that tourism in 2013, before the deal lifted some sanctions, was less than that recorded in April this year.

The immediate result of the rising tension now between the United States and Iran is that it undermines Iranian moderates, including Rouhani's government, which put all their political capital in the deal in the lead up to this month's election.

Qalibaf called on his supporters to vote for Raisi on May 19. Raisi, who is also running on a campaign to improve the economy, said in the Golestan province: "Citizen's right means the right of an unemployed to find job".

The focus of the final debate was on the economy as the candidates, who are all male, outlined their vision for Iran's future.

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