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Iran: Profiles of 7 candidates racing in key presidential poll

TEHRAN, IRAN - OCTOBER 22: A general view of Parliamentary session in Tehran, Iran on October 22, 2020. Iranian Members of the Parliament also follow the presidential elections of U.S. ( Fatemeh Bahrami - Anadolu Agency )
A general view of Parliamentary session in Tehran, Iran on October 22, 2020. Iranian Members of the Parliament also follow the presidential elections of U.S. [Fatemeh Bahrami - Anadolu Agency]

Seven candidates will be vying for Iran's presidency in the elections scheduled on June 18, including five conservatives and two reformists, Anadolu Agency reports.

Many top reformist candidates, including a key ally of President Hassan Rouhani, were disqualified by Iran's top election supervisory body Guardian Council. The approved names by announced by the Interior Ministry on Tuesday.

The disqualification of key reformists candidates has reportedly drawn the ire of the incumbent president, who is believed to have written a letter to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei protesting against the decision.

Reacting to the announcement, official spokesman Ali Rabaie, said minimal participation in the election is "not in anyone's interest", suggesting that the disqualification of candidates could affect turnout in the election.

Here are brief profiles of candidates in the electoral race to claim the top executive post in the country.

Ebrahim Raeisi

Iranian judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi greets journalists as he arrives to submit his candidacy for Iran's presidential elections, at the Interior Ministry ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for June on May 15, 2021, Tehran, Iran. (Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

Iranian judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi greets journalists as he arrives to submit his candidacy for Iran's presidential elections, at the Interior Ministry ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for June on May 15, 2021, Tehran, Iran. [Majid Saeedi/Getty Images]

Ebrahim Raeisi, 60, the chief of Iran's judiciary, remains the best bet for conservatives to succeed incumbent Rouhani. He was Rouhani's main challenger in the 2017 presidential election but failed to overcome the massive reformist tide at that time.

Although he has filed his nomination as an independent, he enjoys the backing of the conservative conglomerate. One of Khamenei's close confidantes, Raeisi is likely to adopt a firm approach in Iran's foreign policy, especially in negotiations with the US and European powers on reviving the nuclear deal.

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He has held several key posts in the Iranian judiciary since the 1979 revolution, besides heading the influential Rezavi shrine complex in northeastern Mashhad province. In March 2019, he was chosen by Khamenei to head the country's judiciary after the death of former chief justice Mahmoud Shahroudi.

Several candidates have in the past few days dropped out in favor of Raeisi, including the former defense minister Hossein Dehghan, bolstering his chances as the main frontrunner in the race for the presidency.

Mohsen Rezaei

TEHRAN, IRAN - JULY 10: Mohsen Rezaei, a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander and two-time presidential candidate (in uniform), stands during Friday Prayers during a Qods (Jerusalem) Day rally, an annual pro-Palestinian event, in Tehran, Iran, on July 10, 2015. Rally-goers turned out in cities across Iran, chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel," as Iran negotiates the final rounds of a nuclear deal with six world powers in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images)

Mohsen Rezaei, a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander and two-time presidential candidate (in uniform), stands during Friday Prayers during a Qods (Jerusalem) Day rally, an annual pro-Palestinian event, in Tehran, Iran, on July 10, 2015 [Scott Peterson/Getty Images]

Mohsen Rezaei, 67, a veteran military figure and former chief of Iran's revolutionary guards (IRGC), unsuccessfully contested presidential elections twice in the past — in 2009 and 2013.

Currently, he serves as the secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, a government body tasked with resolving disputes between Guardian Council and the parliament.

Although he lost multiple electoral battles over the past two decades, the former military commander has refused to retire from public life. In the military corridors, he is praised for his role as the head of IRGC in Iran's war with Iraq in the 1980s.

Saeed Jalili

TEHRAN, IRAN - MAY 29: Iran's top nuclear negotiator and presidential candidate for the upcoming elections, Saeed Jalili, addresses a campaign rally, attended by his female supporters on May 29, 2013 in Tehran, Iran. Jalili, who is running in next month's presidential elections says he will promote a policy of resistance against the West if elected. The elections are scheduled for June 14 and Jalili has stated that he wishes to revive policies of the 1979 Islamic revolution that brought clerics to power. (Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

Iran's top nuclear negotiator and presidential candidate for the upcoming elections, Saeed Jalili, addresses a campaign rally, attended by his female supporters on May 29, 2013 in Tehran, Iran [Majid Saeedi/Getty Images]

Saeed Jalili, 56, is among the most senior conservative political figures in Iran. He previously served as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and headed the country's top security body, the Supreme National Security Council.

A veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, Jalili also contested for the top post in 2013 but came third in the list behind the conservative challenger Baqer Qalibaf.

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Jalili, while choosing to keep a low profile, has for long been the establishment's favorite in Iran. Wikileaks in 2008 quoted a European official who had met Jalili, he was a "true product of the Iranian revolution". As a nuclear negotiator, he was described as a feisty figure not willing to give concessions.

In recent days, Jalili has been embroiled in a war of words on Twitter with fellow presidential candidate Ali Larijani, who ultimately faced disqualification. Observers say Jalili is likely to withdraw in favor of Raeisi to put up a united front.

Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi

Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi [WikiCommons]

Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi [WikiCommons]

Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, 51, a politician is presently serving as the deputy speaker of Iran's parliament. He has been a lawmaker since 2008, representing various constituencies in northeastern Mashhad province.

Hashemi has been one of the main forces behind the passing of the strategic action plan for lifting sanctions, under which the Iranian government was obliged to reduce its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal last year.

The senior lawmaker is contesting as an independent candidate but is likely to withdraw candidacy, particularly in favor of Raeisi, according to observers.

Alireza Zakani

Iranian conservative presidential candidate, Alireza Zakani, registers his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections at the ministry of interior in the capital Tehran on April 14, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

Iranian conservative presidential candidate, Alireza Zakani, registers his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections at the ministry of interior in the capital Tehran on April 14, 2017 [ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images]

Alireza Zakani, 56, is a senior Iranian conservative politician and a member of parliament. He owns two Persian language media publications and currently heads the research department of the Iranian parliament.

He previously represented Tehran in the parliament from 2004-2016.

Zakani had twice registered to run for the presidency — in 2013 and 2017. But his candidacy was rejected by the Guardian Council on both occasions. While his candidacy has been approved now, but in presence of other stronger conservative figures, observers say his chances to win the race look bleak.

Mohsen Mehralizadeh

TEHRAN, IRAN - MAY 15: Former Iranian vice president Mohsen Mehralizadeh addresses the media after registering his candidacy at the Interior Ministry candidate on May 15, 2021, in Tehran, Iran. Candidature applications continue in Iran for the Presidential elections to be held on June 18. (Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

Former Iranian vice president Mohsen Mehralizadeh addresses the media after registering his candidacy at the Interior Ministry candidate on May 15, 2021, in Tehran, Iran. [Majid Saeedi/Getty Images]

Mohsen Mehralizadeh, 64, a senior reformist political figure and a former vice president.

An ethnic Azerbaijani, he has also previously served as the governor of northeastern Khorasan and the central Isfahan provinces, besides heading the National Sports Organization of Iran, the country's top sports body.

Mehralizadeh had tried his luck in 2005 presidential polls a well, claiming representative of the younger generation. His candidacy was also rejected by the Guardian Council in 2005, but a day later, due to the intervention of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, he joined the race. But he ended up last on the list of seven candidates.

In the absence of another heavyweight reformist candidate, the 2021 election appears open for Mehralizadeh as the main reformist candidate. Following his approval on Tuesday, he said he will stay in the race and will not withdraw in favor of any other candidates.

AbdolNaser Hemmati

Head of Iran's Central Bank Naser Hemati (Hemmati) talks to journalists after registering his candidacy for the June presidential elections, at the Interior Ministry in the capital Tehran, on May 15, 2021. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

Head of Iran's Central Bank Naser Hemati (Hemmati) talks to journalists after registering his candidacy for the June presidential elections, at the Interior Ministry in the capital Tehran, on May 15, 2021 [ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images]

AbdolNaser Hemmati, 64, is Iran's top banker who has been heading the Central Bank of Iran since 2018. He is seen as a close ally of President Hassan Rouhani, and one of the two reformist candidates in the race for the presidency.

Hemmati previously served as the vice president of Iran's state-run media organization, governor of the state-owned insurance body, and chief executive of the country's two leading banks.

His tenure at the country's top bank has coincided with the Iranian currency, rial, losing value against the foreign currencies, leading to inflation and causing discontent among the general masses.

With just two reformists now in the race, it remains to be seen which of them will get the final nod from the moderate camp to face the leading conservative candidate.

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