|Presidential election enters new stage||
TEHRAN - Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Supreme National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili, who is also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, registered for Iran’s upcoming presidential election in the closing hours of the process on Saturday, and many political analysts say the race has entered a new stage since they will be the two main competitors.
Amid speculation about who would be the Ahmadinejad administration’s candidate in the election, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei entered the Interior Ministry building on Fatemi Street and registered for the presidential election on Saturday. He was accompanied by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
A number of reformist presidential hopefuls previously announced that they would withdraw from the race in favor of Rafsanjani, if he registered as a candidate. Those candidates are Hassan Rohani, a centrist who formerly served as the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Mohammad Reza Aref, who served as first vice president under President Mohammad Khatami, former MP Mostafa Kavakebian, former commerce minister Mohammad Shariatmadari, former health minister Mas’oud Pezeskian, and former industries and mines minister Es’haq Jahangiri.
With Jalili’s entrance into the race, it is expected that a number of principlist candidates will also drop out in favor of him.
After registering, a number of presidential hopefuls spoke to reporters about their views.
Rafsanjani refused to comment on his platform and only said he would elaborate on his plans later.
In response to a question about what he would do if the Guardian Council rejects his qualification, Rahim Mashaei said that