Iran’s Rouhani urges greater ‘competition’ in presidential poll

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Iran s President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday called for greater “competition” in an election for his successor next month after several hopefuls were barred from running against ultraconservative candidates.

Rouhani said he had asked the Islamic republic s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to intervene and warned that “the heart of elections is competition. If you take that away it becomes a corpse.”

Iran s ultraconservative judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi is now widely seen as the frontrunner to replace Rouhani, a moderate, after the powerful Guardian Council prevented several prominent figures from standing for election.

Seven candidates, five of them ultraconservatives, were approved for the June 18 poll, which comes at a time Iran is in talks with world powers to revive the tattered nuclear deal that former US president Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.

The Guardian Council disqualified several well-known figures, including long-time parliament speaker Ali Larijani, a moderate-conservative ally of Rouhani who had been seen as the main challenger to Raisi.

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