Tehran, April 21:
Electioneering for Iran presidential elections 2017 is underway in full swing with all major candidates in the fray leaving no stone unturned to appeal the 8 million-strong population of Iran. The prime electoral battle is expected to be contested between incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and his hardline rival Ebrahim Raisi. The latter is backed by Ayotallah Ali Khameini, the supreme leader of Iran. Meanwhile, the candidature of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been cancelled.
Ahmadinejad was barred from contesting by the Guard Council, which examines all the candidatures filed. Interestingly, Ahmadinejad had defied Khameini by filing his nomination. The ex-President had committed to the supreme cleric that he would not enter the electoral race again after 2013. Reports also claim that half the members of Guard Council, which debarred Ahmadinejad from contesting, are nominated by Khameini himself.
The incumbent President, Rouhani, is also reportedly facing the ire of Khameini. In several of his public speeches, Khameini has targeted the incumbent government over the dwindling rate of employment in Iran. As of now, nearly 3.2 million people in the nation are unemployed.
Rouhani’s moderate image, as compared to his ultra-conversative rival Raisi, is also working against him. His efforts to detente ties with the West has not gone down well with a vast section of right-leaning population. The nuclear deal with US is considered to be the gateway for foreign companies to sneak into Iran, among the Iranian critics of the pact.
Although poll battle is expected to escalate, top election officials have been tasked by the government to maintain peace at all cost. Khameini has also issued personal appeal to workers and supporters of all political parties to desist from the use of violence in any form.