Reformists back moderate cleric Rohani in Iran presidential vote

Candidate Mohammad Reza Aref withdraws leaving four candidates in race

The reformists’ backing of Hassan Rohani, a former chief nuclear negotiator known for his conciliatory approach, is an effort to attract the votes of those Iranians hoping for greater freedoms and an end to Iran’s diplomatic isolation. Photograph: Reuters The reformists’ backing of Hassan Rohani, a former chief nuclear negotiator known for his conciliatory approach, is an effort to attract the votes of those Iranians hoping for greater freedoms and an end to Iran’s diplomatic isolation. Photograph: Reuters

The reformists’ backing of Hassan Rohani, a former chief nuclear negotiator known for his conciliatory approach, is an effort to attract the votes of those Iranians hoping for greater freedoms and an end to Iran’s diplomatic isolation. Photograph: Reuters The reformists’ backing of Hassan Rohani, a former chief nuclear negotiator known for his conciliatory approach, is an effort to attract the votes of those Iranians hoping for greater freedoms and an end to Iran’s diplomatic isolation. Photograph: Reuters

Wed, Jun 12, 2013, 01:00

Iranian reformists led by former president Mohammad Khatami have endorsed Hassan Rohani, the lone moderate contesting Friday’s election for the presidency, held by hardline Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the past eight years.

Within Iran’s complex mix of clerical rulers and elected officials, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final say on big issues such as Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme and its support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war.

But the next president may at least change the style of Iran’s dealings with the world after fiery populist Mr Ahmadinejad steps down in August. He will also be an important adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei and take charge of an economy battered by international sanctions, mismanagement and corruption.


Dropouts
One conservative and the only reformist in the race have dropped out in the last two days, leaving four candidates ultra-loyal to the supreme leader, one outsider, and Mr Rohani, a moderate cleric.

Mr Khatami, who won two presidential election landslides in 1997 and 2001, threw his weight behind Mr Rohani yesterday after Mohammad Reza Aref, the sole reformist candidate approved by Iran’s guardian council, withdrew on Monday night. Mr Aref was seen as lacklustre and had little public following.

The reformists’ backing of Mr Rohani, a former chief nuclear negotiator known for his conciliatory approach, is an effort to attract the votes of those Iranians hoping for greater freedoms and an end to Iran’s diplomatic isolation.

A high election turnout, with no repeat of the violent protests that followed the disputed 2009 poll, will be a stamp of legitimacy for the Islamic republic and its clerical rulers. – (Reuters)