Two low-profile candidates drop out of Iran’s presidential race

A banner of presidential candidate Mohsen Mehralizadeh ​is seen in a street in Tehran, Iran June 15, 2021. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Two candidates have withdrawn from Iran’s presidential election just days ahead of the vote, state media reported on Wednesday, in moves apparently aimed at boosting the chances of leading hardline and moderate contenders.

Last month, the Islamic Republic’s hardline Guardian Council approved just seven presidential hopefuls to stand in Friday’s election and disqualified several prominent candidates.

The decision resulted in a field of two low-key moderates five hardliners, including the front-runner, hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, an ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The decision to limit the field may have dimmed prospects of a high turnout, amid alienation and discontent over an economy crippled by U.S. sanctions.

Mohsen Mehralizadeh, a former governor of Iran’s Isfahan province, announced his withdrawal in a letter to the interior ministry, state TV said. Mehralizadeh ranked last among seven candidates who ran in Iran’s 2005 presidential election.

On Friday, Mehralizadeh’s supporters are likely to back the leading moderate candidate, former Central Bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati.

Hardline lawmaker Alireza Zakani, who was disqualified in 2013 and 2017 from running for president, also dropped out of the race, in a move that boosts the chances of hardline frontrunner Ebrahim Raisi.

“I sincerely thank my dear brother, Dr. Alireza Zakani, who decided to run in the election based on his revolutionary duty … Today he decided responsibly,” Raisi said, according to Iranian state media.

(Esta Media Network/Reuters)

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