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Iran Live: Meet the Presidential Hopefuls

Tehran Mayor Qalibaf1455 GMT:Election Watch

Hojatoleslam Hossein Jalali has said the "hard-line" Constancy Front, formed before the 2012 Parliamentary elections, will present a Presidential candidate next week in a speech by Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi.

1325 GMT:The House Arrests

Detained opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard have been allowed to meet Rahnavard's mother last week.


Mousavi, the primary challenger to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the disputed 2009 Presidential election, and his wife Rahnavard have been under strict house arrest since February 2011. They have been to allowed to speak to, let alone sse, their three daughters since Iranian New Year on 21 March.

1225 GMT:Political Prisoner Watch

The Committee of Human Rights Reporters claims that 188 Ahvazi Arabs have been arrested in the last five weeks in Khuzestan Province.

0941 GMT:All is Well Alert

Hamid Safdel, the Deputy Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade, announced yesterday that non-oil exports reached $41.5 billion last year and Iran’s overall foreign trade hit $95 billion.

0925 GMT:Election Watch. Yahya Rahim Safavi, the Supreme Leader’s senior military aide, has warned “domestic and foreign enemies as well as counterrevolutionary groups that any attempt to stir sedition or create chaos before or after the election will receive a crushing response from the Iranian nation."

Safavi reference to sedition is a warning against the kind of mass demonstrations and political activity that followed the disputed 2009 election while the “domestic enemies” is a jab at the so-called deviant current led by President Ahmadinejad.

0920 GMT:Nuclear Watch (Bushehr Earthquake Edition)

Mohammad Ahmadian, the deputy of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has dismissed rumours about the possibility of radiation leaks at the Bushehr nuclear power plant caused by last week’s earthquake in the province.

He declared that there are no problems because the earthquake registered 6.1 on the Richter scale and “Bushehr nuclear power plant has been constructed to withstand an eight Richter magnitude earthquake near the plant.”


Ahmadian’s comments came after the Gulf Cooperation Council expressed concerns about the possibility of leaks, and called for international inspectors to investigate the plant.


0915 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch --- Presidential Hopeful Damned Over a Dam

Ahmadinejad has denounced former interior minister, presidential hopeful and current director of the National Inspection Organization Mostafa Pourmohammadi as "illiterate" over the Upper Gotvand Dam project.

Responding to a question from Pourmohammadi about the dam's technical shortcomings, Ahmadinejad defended the 2,500 billion toman investment in the project.

"An uneducated person is put in charge of a specialized task and he sends us official letters, saying that at this point the dam can't go ahead and should be built elsewhere," Ahmadinejad said.

Using the familiar -- and hence disrespectful -- form of address, Ahmadinejad challenged Pourmohammadi: "What are you trying to say? Do you even know what a dam is? Who has given you permission do do such work? I, who am a civil engineer, don't go around commenting on this matter -- because dam construction requires a knowledge of geology and hydrology… at the end of the threatening letters, [you say] if we don't do this we will deal with you…"

Ahmadinejad inaugurated the project -- intended as one of Iran's largest power stations -- in July 2011.

0845 GMT: Economy Watch -- Crude Oil 

Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi has said crude prices should stay over $100 a barrel , Reuters report.

Reacting as crude prices reached a nine-month low at close to $101 a barrel on Friday and ahead of OPEC's next meeting on May 31, Qasemi said that "Oil prices below $100 is not reasonable for anyone."

0625 GMT: Election Watch. Ahead of the official registration date for candidates on May 7, ISNA offers a "last look at the likely candidates for the election".

ISNA notes that there has been a lot of speculation about possible candidates so far, and provides a table with a list of potential candidates, with click-through links to more information about each.

Notably, ISNA does not list Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei -- Ahmadinejad's top advisor and former Chief of Staff whom hardliners accuse of leading the controversial "Deviant Current' -- as a potential candidate. ISNA does list Mashaei's close associate Ahmadzadeh Kermani, however.

The candidates ISNA has listed are:

  • Yayha Al-Eshaq, the Head of Tehran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines;
  • Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel , a top advisor to the Supreme Leader and member of the Expediency Discernment Council. Haddad-Adel was elected chairman of the Parliament's Principlist faction in August 2012;
  • Mostafa Kavakebian, the leader of the Mardomsalari (Democracy) Party and editor-in-chief of Mardomsalari's eponymous daily newspaper. Kavakebian supported reformist Mir Hossein Moussavi in the 2009 election.
  •  Mohammad Saeedi-Kia, former Minister of Housing and Urban Development and a self-declared independent candidate, although he has been identified with the principlist camp.
  •  Mohammad Reza Bahonar, Kerman and Tehran representative and leader of the Islamic Society of Engineers.
  • Principlist MP Ali Reza Zakani. Ahead of the nuclear talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Zakani was quoted as saying that "economic sanctions would have no impact on Iranˈs nuclear stance".
  •  Ali Akbar Velayati, former Foreign Minister and now the Supreme Leader's senior advisor on international affairs.
  •  Manouchehr Mottaki, former Foreign Minister in Ahmadinejad's government until the president suddenly dismissed him in December 2010, while Mottaki was on a state visit to Senegal. Mottaki is an ally of Ahmadinejad rival Ali Larijani.
  •  Hassan Rohani, Expediency Council member and member of the Combatant Clergy Association, former Supreme National Security Council secretary and nuclear negotiator.
  •  Ali Fallahian, former Intelligence Minister under former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, now a member of the Assembly of Experts. Fallahian has been linked to the "Chain Murders" of Iranian dissident intellectuals and to the 1995 bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires.
  • Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Tehran mayor. In the 1990s, Qalibaf ran“Khatam al-Anbia”, an engineering firm controlled by the IRGC.
  •  Mohammad Reza Aref, a reformist and former First Vice President under Khatami. Aref is a member of the Expediency Discernment Council.
  • Mohammad Shariatmadari, former Commerce Minister under Khatami and currently a member of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations and a senior advisor to Khamenei.
  • Ahmadzadeh Kermani, former director of the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization and a close associate of Mashaei.

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