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Sunday
May122013

Iran Today: Presidential Election --- Rafsanjani Shakes Up The Race

A fistfight in the Minister of Interior after President Ahmadinejad's right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, registered for the Presidential race on Saturday --- Rahim-Mashai is on the right while Ahmadinejad is in the centre of the photograph


Following up on an eventful Saturday, the last day of registration of candidacy for the 14 June Presidential election, in which....

*Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani shook up the race with a last-minute entry, grabbing headlines and pushing other factions and candidates to react to his decision

*President Ahmadinejad and his camp finally made their move, putting forth Ahmadinejad's right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

*The situation around the Supreme Leader's camp continued to risk confusion --- not only are all three members of the "2+1 Committee" formally registered; they have been joined by a possible compromise candidate, Secretary of the National Security Committee Saeed Jalili


Presidential Election Watch: Rafsanjani's Campaign "Manifesto"

Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has set out his opening statement for the campaign.

The highlight? A challenge to the Supreme Leader's declaration of the successful "resistance" of the Islamic Republic, with Rafsanjani saying that he is entering race because "the country is in condition equivalent to eight years of war with the Baathist Party in Iraq".

Rafsanjani also emphasised that he chose to run based on the requests of "many senior scholars and clerics" as well as different groups within the society. He continued:

I offer unity, trust, and the ability to bring together all factions within the family of the system and the Islamic Revolution, ensuring compassionate leaders and experienced managers.

Presidential Election Watch: Ahmadinejad Threatened with Punishment by Guardian Council

Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, the spokesman of the Guardian Council, has said that President Ahmadinejad's appearance at the Ministry of Interior --- in support of the registration of candidacy by his right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai --- was illegal and may be prosecuted.

Presidential Election Watch: Rohani Clarifies Position Over Rafsanjani Campaign

Hassan Rohani --- a senior official of the Expediency Council and ally of Hashemi Rafsanjani --- has clarified his position:

Reports circulated on Saturday that Rohani had withdrawn for Rafsanajani, but an EA correspondent assesses that Rohani was caught by surprise by the former President's decision to run and is saving face by staying in the campaign for at least a few more days.

The leading reformist candidate, Mohammad Reza Aref, has also said he will remain in the contest for now.

Election Watch --- Social Media Edition

Chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili has joined Twitter as part of his presidential campaign. Jalili, whose Twitter handle is @DrSaeedJalili, is tweeting in English, presumably to reach out to Iranian ex-patriates. Jalili's background photograph shows him standing next to a map with a clearly-labelled Persian Gulf, a symbol of his patriotism and also one that will likely appeal to Iranians living abroad.

Bans at Tehran International Book Fair

Iran Green Voice reports that eight booths have been closed and 883 books have been withdrawn from the Tehran International Book Fair.

Sanctions Watch: Fall in Income for Iran's Shipping Company

ILNA reports that the income of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines has been halved, falling by $1 billion, because of US and European Union sanctions.

Presidential Election Watch: Rohani "Has Not Withdrawn Yet" for Rafsanjani

The office of Hassan Rohani, an ally of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has denied reports on Saturday that he has withdrawn from the race in favour of Rafsanjani.

Presidential Election Watch: Rafsanjani Sets Out "Moderation and Victory"

"God Willing (Inshallah), 1392 will be the year of moderation and victory" proclaimed a headline on the official website of Hashemi Rafsanjani on Sunday, a day after the former president shook up the Presidential race by registering minutes before polls closed.

Rafsanjani's website offers a hint about a possible direction for his Presidential campaign --- should the Guardian Council approve his candidacy. In a post entitled The US President's Message To Hashemi the former president refers to thenPpresident George Bush's 1989 message of "goodwill begets goodwill, after which Rafsanjani sought an opening for talks with Washington, in the face of opposition from hardliners in Tehran.

Rafsanjani's hint that he may be willing to engage with Washington comes amid similar opposition to direct talks with the US, with Iran's ambassador to Paris, Ali Ahani telling France's BFM TV channel on Saturday that Washington was continuing its hostile policies against Iran and the Iranian nation, accusing the US of "meddling" in Iran in the past.

Tasnim News, which was founded by former Fars News reporters, speculates whether Rafsanjani will create a promotional film for his election campaign. Tasnim suggest that as the presidential race heats up, Rafsanjani will attempt to become more visible.

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