Raisi endorsed as candidate for Iran presidential polls

BEIRUT: The Iranian clerical body on Tuesday threw its support behind presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi, giving him a boost before the country’s election on May 19. Raisi, who served for years on Iran’s judiciary, is considered the main rival to President Hassan Rouhani, who is running for reelection.
Four other candidates have also entered the race, including Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Vice-President Ishaq Jahangiri.
The clerical association, commonly referred to as Jame Modarresin in Farsi, is a group of seminary teachers from the city of Qom and has a number of high-profile clerics among its members.
A statement posted on the group’s website on Tuesday said that extensive discussions had taken place and that Raisi was chosen as the “best candidate.”
Rouhani has pointed to the agreement signed with Western powers in 2015, which lifted a number of sanctions in exchange for curbs on the country’s nuclear programme, as his signature achievement.
Raisi, who is thought to be the candidate favoured by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had flayed Rouhani’s economic record in recent speeches and said that the country does not need foreign help.
Khamenei, the highest authority in Iran, has also criticised the Rouhani government’s economic performance and called for more attention to be paid to unemployment. Last year, Khamenei appointed Raisi as the head of a multi-billion dollar religious foundation, and some observers say Raisi is possibly being groomed as the next Supreme Leader. — Reuters