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Published: Sun, April 16, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

More than 1000 register to run for presidency in Iran

More than 1000 register to run for presidency in Iran

On Friday, Rouhani registered for the upcoming Iranian presidential election and defended the performance of his administration over the past four years.

"We have repeatedly declared that strengthening the defensive prowess of Iran's Armed Forces is only aimed at defending the country and will never be used against another country", Rouhani said in a ceremony in Tehran on Saturday to unveil new domestically-manufactured defense achievements.

Once the process ends on Saturday, the prospective candidates will be screened for their political and Islamic qualifications by the Guardian Council. While many delegations have come since the lifting of sanctions, "people are not seeing a huge elevation for Iran in terms of the economy or its place on the global stage", she said.

A potential spoiler for Raisi arose on April 12, when former hard-line president Mahmud Ahmadinejad made a surprise move to register for the election against Khamenei's advice.

U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized the nuclear deal and said during his election campaign he would stop Iran's missile program. The council normally does not approve dissidents or women for the formal candidate list.

Running on the platform "More freedom and peace" Rouhani said, "Freedom should be expanded in both scope and strength in this country".

His toughest competitor is expected to be Ebrahim Raisi, a previously-little-known cleric who registered last week and has since gained wide popularity among Rouhani's opponents.

"He has no experience in foreign policy, so at least initially he will have to follow the system's grand strategy of preserving the nuclear deal and shifting any blame of undermining it to the USA", said Ali Vaez, Iran analyst for the International Crisis Group.

A clearer picture will emerge next week when the conservative-controlled Guardian Council announces which of the near-1,000 registered candidates are allowed to run in the May 19 election. Iran has since resumed selling oil and signed deals worth billions of dollars to replace its aging commercial airline inventory.

A large number of conservatives appear to throw their full support behind Raisi who now holds the position of the custodian of a wealthy charity and the organization in charge of the holiest Shia shrine of Iran based in the city of Mashhad. Rouhani also is presumed to maintain support among liberals and those wanting tensions eased with the West, though polling is hard. Ali Akbar Javanfekr, Ahmadinejad's media adviser during his presidency, told one local news site that "Ahmadinejad will not withdraw".

Ahmadinejad said the strike on Syria could have happened even if Hillary Clinton had won the U.S. election.

Some, like 26-year-old electrician Mahmoud Karegar, said Ahmadinejad should be allowed to run.

"I do not think it has a message for Iran".

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