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16 May 2017, 09:37 | Clarence Schmidt
Has Rouhani succeeded in reforming Iran?
Qalibaf issued a statement later on Monday announcing that he would quit the presidential race in favor of another principlist candidate, Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi.
Conservative Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf withdrew from Iran's presidential race on Monday just days before the election, state media reported.
There are five candidates remaining following Qalibaf's withdrawal, including Vice-President Eshagh Jahangiri, who supports Rouhani and whose candidacy has been aimed at uniting forces behind him, and fellow reformer Mostafa Hashemi-Taba, a former industry minister.
"I ask all my popular supporters across the country to use all their potential and support for the success of our respectable brother, Ebrahim Raisi", he said. He is now facing five rivals, but some could withdraw in favor of more prominent candidates.
However, most Iranians have yet to see the benefits of the nuclear deal.
Raisi, a former attorney general, serves as the head of the Imam Reza charity foundation, which manages a vast conglomerate of businesses and endowments in Iran.
Conservatives accuse Rouhani of succumbing to Western pressure and for compromising Iran's sovereignty.
In recent weeks on the campaign trail Rouhani has also taken aim at the country's Revolutionary Guards claiming that the military institution had attempted to scupper a landmark nuclear deal signed by Tehran in late 2015 with the United States, and five other world powers.
Having now called on conservative voters to unite behind Raisi, Qalibaf could conceivably upset forecasts that Rouhani was on course for a comfortable victory.
Unofficial polls still show moderate President Hassan Rouhani as the front-runner, but he has a tougher-than-expected challenge from his conservative rivals due to the continued stagnation of the economy.
The two candidates were the top conservative challengers to President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist whose government negotiated a 2015 deal with world powers to rein in Iran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting global sanctions.
'Some have not decided whether to take part or not and others have not chosen the nominee for whom he (or she) would vote, ' he said.
An push to boycott the country's upcoming elections is being driven by an online campaign lead by Iranian expatriates who oppose the theocratic regime governing in Tehran. Raisi, who is also running on a campaign to improve the economy, said in the Golestan province: "Citizen's right means the right of an unemployed to find job". Both snubbed Rouhani, who himself is a cleric.
Khatami, the de facto leader of the reformist camp, has been under a media ban during the past few years for supporting the Green Movement protestors in the 2009 presidential election that saw hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected.
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