TEHRAN, May 7 (RIA Novosti) – Five prominent Iranian politicians submitted their candidature for the post of the country’s president on Tuesday as registration of candidates opened prior to June 14 polls.
Registration of candidates will continue through May 11 and the list of accepted candidates will be unveiled by the Guardian Council, the group that supervises the election, on May 22-23. The election campaign will begin on May 24.
The first presidential hopefuls include Iran’s former nuclear negotiator with international mediators Hasan Rowhani, former Vice President Sadegh Vaezadeh, ex-Health Minister Kamran Bagheri Lankarani, ex-Housing Minister Mohammad Saeedikia, and leader of the reformist Democracy Party Mostafa Kavakebian.
Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not run for a third term due to term limits under the Iranian constitution.
Ahmadinejad is reported to have picked a tentative successor in his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, 52.
But the outgoing president has fallen out of favor with Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, which – coupled with Ahmadinejad's presumed unpopularity with the public (no independent polls from Iran are available) and powerful enemies in parliament – could undermine Mashaei’s chances.
The reformists are out of the picture, Russian experts believe, as public opinion holds them partly responsible for violence during the 2009 protests, in which at least 36 civilians were killed in clashes with police and pro-government militia.
Analysts say the Iranian voters may lean toward electing a new leader who would promote less hostile diplomacy in a nuclear dispute with the West, as tough international sanctions have a significant impact on the deteriorating living standards of Iranians.
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Iran has been a central Russian ally in the Middle East, despite considerable tensions between the two. But by renewing dialogue with the West, the new Iranian leadership has chosen another direction. The shifting terrain in the region creates new strategic, political and economic challenges for Russia.