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Middle East

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to run for second term

© ATTA KENARE / ISNA / AFP | Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) gestures to the camera after registering to run for re-election at the interior ministry in the capital Tehran on April 14, 2017

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-04-14

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who engineered the country's landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, registered on Friday to run for a second four-year term in the May election, state television reported.

"Once again, I am here for Iran, for Islam, for freedom and for more stability in this country. I am urging all Iranians to vote for Iran and for Islam," Rouhani told reporters.

He won election by a landslide in 2013 on a platform of ending the Islamic Republic's diplomatic isolation and creating a freer society.

Profile: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Tehran, Reza Sayah, said that while many analysts see centrist Rouhani as the clear favourite to win re-election in May, he might not have as smooth a path to the presidency as he did in 2013.

“He has yet to deliver on a lot of the lofty promises he made back in 2013,” Sayah explains.

"Remember, he ran on a platform of reaching a nuclear agreement with the international community, improving international relations and therefore improving trade; reducing unemployment -- in general improving the lives of many young Iranians.”

With one out of every four young Iranians out of work and with foreign investment yet to make an impact since the lifting of sanctions in January 2016, Sayah added that it may be Iran’s youth who determine Rouhani’s political fate.

“What will be key for Rouhani is to reach the base that went out in droves and voted for him back in 2013,’ he said referring to the country’s younger voters.

Fury over economy

With discontent over the economy running high, Rouhani also faces stiff competition from conservative hardliners who are ready to pounce.

Influential Shi'ite cleric Ebrahim Raisi, the custodian of a powerful organisation in charge of Iran’s holiest shrine, appears to be the leading hardline candidate.

But despite months of talks, hardliners have been unable to unite behind a single candidate and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appears to have not yet intervened to make them do so.

Within Iran's complex mix of clerical rulers and elected officials, Khamenei has the final say on all state matters.

An ally of Khamenei, Raisi also registered on Friday for the vote. But some prominent conservatives, including parliament speaker Ali Larijani, have thrown their support behind Rouhani.

The five-day registration period for the May 19 election began on Tuesday and will be followed by a process of vetting of the hopefuls by a hardline watchdog body, the Guardian Council.

More than 950 people have signed up so far for the vote. Several former ministers and hardline former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are among those who have registered.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2017-04-14

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