Iran candidate quits to support reformist

2013-06-11 12:02
Escorted by his bodyguards, pro-reform Iranian presidential candidate, Mohammad Reza Aref, center, a former vice-president, arrives at his campaign rally in Tehran, Iran. (File, AP)

Escorted by his bodyguards, pro-reform Iranian presidential candidate, Mohammad Reza Aref, center, a former vice-president, arrives at his campaign rally in Tehran, Iran. (File, AP)

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Tehran — A pro-reform candidate withdrew on Tuesday from Iran's 14 June presidential election to support a centrist whose campaign has gained momentum in recent days.

The decision by Mohammad Reza Aref is seen as a major boost for Hasan Rowhani, who now faces off against five conservative candidates.

Aref's website Draref.ir said he made the decision at the urging of reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami. State TV and media also reported his withdrawal.

Aref said he received a message from Khatami telling him that his continued candidacy "is not in the interest" of Iran's reformers. He said his campaign could be a "base and great social capital" for the reform movement.

Aref has been a close ally of Khatami's since his presidency in 1997-2005. Rowhani meanwhile has close ties with both Khatami and another influential former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was barred in May from running in the election by a clerically run constitutional watchdog.

On Monday, a hardline candidate withdrew to avoiding splitting the vote with other conservative candidates.

Under the Iranian system, if no candidate gets a majority in the first round, then the top two have a run-off.

The election will choose a successor for outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadineajd who under the law cannot run for another term.

Read more on:    iran

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