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Spotlight: 3 major figures among hundreds registered for Iran's presidential race

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech after registering his candidacy for presidential race at the Interior Ministry in Tehran, capital of Iran, on April 14, 2017. Hassan Rouhani registered for the upcoming Iranian presidential election on Friday. (Xinhua/Ahmad Halabisaz)

By Hassan Rouhvand, Mu Dong

TEHRAN -- Since Tuesday, when Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli announced registration of candidates for Iran's 12th presidential race, 1,045 hopefuls from different strata of society have registered for the competitions in the Islamic republic.

Among them, three main political figures, namely incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, principlist cleric Ebrahim Raisi, and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, drew attentions and were at the focus of every camera.

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

Following the registration, Rouhani hailed the Iranian international nuclear deal, known as JCPOA, as his administration's achievement, saying that "from now on, protecting the nuclear deal would be one of the important issues (for the next government) politically and economically."

Besides, the nuclear agreement with powers in July 2015 was instrumental to alleviate the risk of war against Iran, he said.

"Security of the country was a major concerns of (his) government, and as you see, the vicious ghost of war against the country has been dispelled and we are witnessing security for the people today," he added.

Rouhani also referred to his government's "successful" management of economic issues and said that he was able to curb the inflation, raise the rate of economic growth, stop depression and, to some extent, solve unemployment problem.

He also expressed satisfaction with his foreign policy attainments and said as he had pledged during his presidential campaign in 2013, he has taken steps to improve relations with the world and to interact constructively with the western countries.

The Iranian president said that revival of social ethics and the rights of citizenship, transparency as well as free circulation of information would still be on the agenda of his program for the next term of presidency, if elected.

For the time being, constant and green-friendly development, creating jobs and fighting social problems, say, poverty and addiction are among major concerns of his administration and he is determined to pace in this direction, Rouhani said.

He urged the Iranians, particularly, the youngsters, to actively participate in the upcoming presidential elections.

Also, Raisi, who is commonly believed to be the main conservative rival of President Rouhani, registered for the presidential race on Friday.

After the registration, Raisi called for "respect to the law" by both people and the officials.

Democracy and democratic elections are attainable by reference to the people's vote and respect to the law, he told reporters.

Raisi, appointed by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is currently the custodian and chairman of the Shrine of Shiite Imam Reza in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad.

He previously served positions in Iran's Judiciary, as the Attorney General from 2014 to 2016, and Deputy Chief Justice from 2004 to 2014 for ten years.

He was also Prosecutor and Deputy Prosecutor of Tehran in 1980s and 1990s. Presently, he is a member of Assembly of Experts from South Khorasan Province, being elected for the first time in 2006 election.

Earlier on Wednesday, Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had registered for the upcoming Iranian presidential election.

During the registration in Iran's Interior Ministry, Ahmadinejad, expressed hope for victory.

He vowed to serve the Iranians, and try hard for the establishment of "justice and freedom" if he is reelected as the president.

Ahmadinejad was accompanied by his confidant former controversial deputies Hamid Baqaee and Rahim Mashae. Baqaee also registered for the presidency.

In September 2016, local media quoted Iran's Supreme Leader as saying that "I do not find it advisable that you (Ahmadinejad) participate" in the next presidential elections.

However, Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that the Supreme Leader never barred him from rerunning for the presidency.

The former hardline president, Ahmadinejad, was a two-term president for 8 years, before President Rouhani took the office in 2013 election.

The registration for the 12th presidential race will last until Saturday evening and all the hopefuls will undergo the subsequent vetting process by the country's high legislative body, namely the Guardian Council of the Constitution.

The Guardian Council will assess the qualification of the applicants and announce the names of the qualified candidates by April 27.

Most of the analysts believe that Rouhani, Raisi and Ahmadinejad will be the three major candidates with political weight and ideological reflection, whose competition can heat up the furnace of election in Iran next month.

According to the schedule released by Iran's Interior Ministry, the campaign for presidential race will kick off on April 28 and will continue until the end of May 17.

The hopefuls will have 20 days for electoral campaigns, ahead of the election day slated for May 19.

The candidate should basically be an Iranian national, prudent and capable of taking on leadership duties, and being religious and believing in the Islamic republic's principles and its official religion.

[ Editor: zyq ]