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The race to be Iran's next president kicks off

21 April 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who engineered the country's landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, registered on Friday to run for a second four-year term in the May election, state television reported.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the recent U.S. missile strike on Syria did not faze him in a recent interview with the Associated Press.

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The controversial former president made the remarks to The Associated Press on Saturday in his office in northern Tehran, three days after he stunned Iranians by registering to run for president again.

Many Iranians have grown impatient with the slow rate of improvement in their economic fortunes since worldwide financial and trade sanctions were lifted after Iran curbed its disputed nuclear activity under its deal with six world powers. "There is extensive pressure on me from dear people of different walks of life as their small servant to come to the election". He reportedly enjoys the support of Supreme Leader Khamenei, the highest authority in the state.Mr. Ahmadinejad, also firmly placed in the conservative camp, could split the hardline vote, Hossein Rassam, a former adviser to the British Foreign Office, told Radio Free Europe. Security forces answering only to the supreme leader also routinely arrest dual nationals and foreigners, using them as pawns in worldwide negotiations.

"From now on, protecting the deal is one of the most important economic and political issues", he said of the nuclear deal.

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Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has filed to run in the May presidential election. Although Rouhani undertook a certain level of outreach to the worldwide community as evidenced by his pursuit of an agreement over the Iranian nuclear program, his administration has followed the rest of the regime in simply dismissing the well-founded global criticisms of the country's human rights record.

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.

First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri, 60, also was a late entrant.

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He urged the Iranians, particularly, the youngsters, to actively participate in the upcoming presidential elections. The large list of potentials will be whittled down by the Guardian Council and final selection based on political and Islamic qualifications announced on April 27, ahead of the ballot in May 19.

The race to be Iran's next president kicks off