Iran Daily: Cleric Raisi Emerges as Leading Challenger to President Rouhani

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Cleric Ebrahim Raisi (pictured) has emerged as the leading hardline-conservative challenger to President Hassan Rouhani in May’s election in Iran.

Raisi is the current custodian of the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad and a former Deputy Chief Justice and Attorney General. He led a shortlist of five candidates at Thursday’s meeting of the Popular Front of the Islamic Revolution Forces.

Raeisi won 2,147 votes. He was followed by former MPs Alireza Zakani (1,546) and Mehrdad Bazrpash (1,404), Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf (1,373), and Parviz Fattah, the current head of the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation (904).

“Raisi has accepted the request to run as candidate and his plans will be announced soon,” said the cleric’s representative, Mashhad Mayor Seyed Sowlat Mortazavi.

Conservatives were hindered in the 2013 election by their failure to agree on a single candidate, leading to the surprise first-round victory of Rouhani.

Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, instructed by the Supreme Leader not to run this year, is backing his former Vice President Hamid Baghaei.

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