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PoliticsMiddle East

Heavy-hitters Raisi, Larijani run for Iran presidency

May 15, 2021

Iran heads into its June election amid rising discontent over its sanctions-crippled economy. Candidates look set to include former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi.

Ali Larijani
Ali Larijani's candidacy, like others, still hinges on Guardian Council scrutinyImage: Atta Kenare/AFP

Iranian state television showed conservative Ali Larijani registering Saturday for the June 18 presidential election, amid candidacies subject as usual to approval by Iran's theocracy led by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Larijani, 63, was formerly Tehran's lead negotiator who sparred with major powers, culminating in a 2015 six-nation deal intended to tame Iran's nuclear ambitions.

That deal — quit by the former US Trump presidency, leaving Iran again under crippling economic sanctions — is now subject to fragile revival talks in Vienna.

Judiciary chief Raisi is also running

Also to register his candidacy Saturday was hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, appointed by Khamenei in 2016 as the "trustworthy" head of the Iman Reza foundation that runs a conglomerate of Iranian businesses and charities.

Iran | Ebrahim Raeesi
Also running is hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim RaisiImage: yjc

International rights groups assert that back in 1988 Raisi took part in a panel involved in prisoner executions at the end of Iran's long war with Iraq.

Raisi, 60, also ran for president in 2017 but lost to incumbent moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who is excluded from a third term next month by the Iranian constitution.

Rouhani was allied with Larijani during the 2015 bid to end Iran's isolation but criticized by Iranian hardliners intent on expanding the nuclear program.

Another to register before the electoral deadline on Saturday was Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, a Tehran city councilor described as reformist and the eldest son of the late former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. 

Former hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had registered last Wednesday, though Khamenei had blocked his return in 2017.

Iran heads into its June election amid rising public discontent over its sanctions-crippled economy.

Iran needs "breathing space," says Larijani

Larijani, until 2020 speaker of Iran's parliament and an adviser to Khamenei, said Saturday: "I hope the negotiations [in Vienna] produce results." 

Iran's [crippled] economy needed a "breathing space," he added.

Larijani, earlier this year also had a role in a 25-year Iranian strategic agreement with China.

Once registration ends, presidential bidders will be screened by Iran's hardline 12-member Guardian Council. Six of its members are appointed by Khamenei.

ipj/mm (AP, Reuters, AFP)