|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 since everyone in the country should comply with the law, he would obey the law, too.
Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf said that he had served the people in various posts over the past 30 years and had fulfilled all the promises he had made.
“I have drawn up a comprehensive plan with the help of 250 skilled experts over the past six years,” he added.
Elsewhere in his remarks, he stated that if elected, he would seriously pursue the implementation of the Constitution in society.
No one in the country, including prisoners, officials, and citizens, should be disrespected, according to the Constitution, he added.
He also said he would cooperate with the Judiciary in the campaign against corruption if elected president.
Presidential candidate Ali Akbar Velayati told reporters that curbing inflation, raising the value of the national currency, boosting the production sector, and reducing unemployment would be his priorities if he wins the election.
On Iran’s disputed nuclear program, Velayati, who formerly served as Iran’s foreign minister, stated that Iran should defend its right to access to nuclear energy meant for peaceful purposes and added that this does not mean the country should seek conflict with other countries.
Velayati is a member to the principlist Coalition of Three, which also includes Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf and MP Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel.
MP Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard, former central bank governor Tahmasb Mazaheri, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, Agriculture Minister Sadeq Khalilian, presidential media advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr, former MP Javad Eta’at, who is a member of the central council of the National Confidence Party, Permanent Committee of Passive Defense Secretary Davoud Ahmadinejad, and former welfare minister Parviz Kazemi also registered to be candidates in the presidential election on Saturday.
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