An extremist cleric in charge of Iranian justice, who also participated in a panel implicated in the mass execution of thousands of prisoners in 1988, registered on Saturday to run for the presidency of the country.
Ebrahim Raisi was also named as a possible successor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 82, leading some to suggest he would not run for president. However, his registration shows that he still has interest in the post he failed to secure in 2017, when he lost to current President Hassan Rouhani.
Raisi’s close ties to Khamenei and his popularity, in part thanks to his televised anti-corruption campaign, could make him a frontrunner in an election in which analysts already believe extremists have an advantage. A journalists crush followed Raisi through the Home Office as he taped on Saturday, the 60-year-old cleric greeting staff members as he passed.
In a statement just before his registration, Raisi pledged to fight “poverty and corruption, humiliation and discrimination” if he becomes president.
He added that his tenure would be aimed at having a “People’s Administration for a Mighty Iran,” a dig at Iran’s current president, the relatively moderate Rouhani, who fought under US sanctions reimposed after America’s unilateral withdrawal. President Donald Trump’s nuclear deal. Rohani is not allowed to run again.
Raisi, dressed in a black turban, made fiery remarks to reporters about his campaign. He vowed that if he won the June 18 vote, corruption would be “dried up.”
Activists, however, take a very different view from Raisi about his involvement in the mass execution of prisoners in 1988 at the end of Iran’s long war with Iraq.
Raisi never publicly acknowledged his role in the executions, even during his presidential campaign in 2017. Although he lost to Rouhani, he garnered nearly 16 million votes in his campaign. Khamenei appointed him head of the judiciary in 2019, signaling that he still had hopes for Raisi’s political career.
In 2016, Khamenei also appointed Raisi to head the Imam Reza charitable foundation, which runs a large conglomerate of businesses and endowments in Iran.
Analysts have speculated that Khamenei could prepare Raisi as a possible candidate to become Iran’s third supreme ruler, a Shia cleric who has the final say on all state matters and is the commander-in-chief of Iran. country.
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In Iran, the candidates exist on a political spectrum that largely includes extremists who want to expand Iran’s nuclear program, moderates who maintain the status quo, and reformists who want to change the theocracy from within.
Those calling for radical change are even barred from standing for election by the Council of Guardians, a 12-member panel that reviews and approves candidates under Khamenei’s oversight.
Other candidates who signed up on Saturday included Ali Larijani, a prominent conservative voice and former speaker of parliament who later allied with Rouhani.
A clear candidate has not yet emerged among the reformists. Some have mentioned Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, although he later said he was not chasing a scandal over a leaked recording in which he was candidly critical of the Guard.
At the same time, Larijani signed up, as did Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, the eldest son of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani, a member of Tehran’s city council, has been called a reformist by political commentators.
Former Iranian extremist president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also signed up on Wednesday. Although his attempt to run in 2017 was ultimately blocked after Khamenei criticized Ahmadinejad, this year the Supreme Leader did not warn him.
The Guardian Council will announce a final slate of candidates by May 27 and a 20-day campaign season will begin the next day.