Iran Election Guide

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Iran Today: Lines Drawn In Presidential Campaigns

Saeed Jalili Posts Photos On His New Google Plus Account

While groups within the regime were trying to rally against former President Hashemi Rafsanjani on Tuesday, another contest was building: the fight to become the Supreme Leader's favoured candidate.

Saeed Jalili, the Secretary of the National Security Council, has turned a well-organised campaign into a leading contender for Ayatollah Khamenei's endorsement. He may overtake the 2+1 Committee, the group that was supposed to name the "unity" choice.

That in turn has brought a fight-back from Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, a member of the Committee, who criticised Jalili as well as Rafsanjani on Tuesday.

Can Qalibaf take the offensive and somehow convince the Supreme Leader's office that he is reliable enough that Khamenei does not have to go to Jalili to challenge Rafsanjani?

Can the Mayor establish that --- in apparent contrast to the lack of appeal of his fellow Committee members, Ali Akbar Velayati and Gholam Ali Haddad Adel --- he has widespread popular support?

Presidential Election Watch: Rohani to Withdraw in Favour of Rafsanjani

Hassan Rohani, a senior official with the Expediency Council, has indicated that he will withdraw his candidacy in favour of former President Hashemi Rafsnajni --- but after the Guardian Council has finished its vetting process:

I am happy that Rafsanjani registered for the candidacy and people should be patient for another 10 days as I think some candidates will step down in favour of other candidates.

Economy Watch: Dairy Prices Rising

Reza Bakeri, spokesman for Iran's dairy industry, has said that prices for dairy products have risen by up to 70%.

Bakeri demanded that the Government intervene and fix new prices.

Presidential Election Watch: IRGC Edition

Ramazan Sharif, the PR officer for the Revolutionary Guards, has stressed --- again --- that the IRGC will not interfere in the elections, but warned that Iran's enemies, including "counterrevolutionaries" were plotting against the Islamic Republic and the election, according to Sepah News, the IRGC's official PR website.

Sharif said that the Revolutionary Guards' role was to ensure that the election was epic and majestic.

Presidential Election Watch: Backing Rafsanjani

Ayatullah Qaravian, a former ally of the "hard-line" Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, has moved behind former President Hashemi Rafsanjani: "I think the only person who is capable of changing the current situation is Rafsanjani."

Qaravian's endorsement came as Ayatollah Mezbah Yazdi, referring to the effective blacklisting of Rafsanjani after his July 2009 Tehran Friday Prayer supporting protesters, said, “I am surprised that the person who is not even allowed in Friday Prayer has become a candidate."

Qaravian countered, "I am sorry that Ayatollah Mezbah said this. Rafsanjani has been close to the Supreme Leader and is the head of the Expediency Discernment Council."

He added that Rafsanjani is the best person to deal with Iran's difficult economic situation.

Presidential Election Watch: Ahmadinejad & Rahim-Mashai "Rites of Spring" Edition

President Ahmadinejad's right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, has said in his latest campaign speech, “We have come to stay”, saying that he is serious about this election and winning the Presidency.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad told reporters after a cabinet meeting Wednesday that the Guardian Council should select candidates from different groups so that the Iranian people could have the opportunity to vote for the person they wanted.

Asked whether his right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei was qualified to run, Ahmadinejad responded cryptically.

"Today the weather was good, and I think it's one of the best days of spring," he said.

Supreme Leader Watch: Presidential Election Edition

The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the Iranian nation must elect a religiously observant and revolutionary individual as their next president, and that this goal can be realized if the nation "enthusiastically and vibrantly" participate in the Presidential election.

Khamenei said that the nation must be elect a President who is determined to protect Iran's dignity and maintain it on its revolutionary path.

In a hint the Supreme Leader is concerned about popular dissent, Khamenei admitted that Iran has economic problems including inflation, but said that these are part of a global trend, and blamed Iran's enemies for trying to incite discontent within Iran by focussing on these problems.

Presidential Election Watch: Calls for Mashaei and Rafsanjani To Be Disqualified

A group of 100 MPs have signed a letter to the Guardian Council urging that body to disqualify former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's right hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei from the Presidential race.

Lawmaker Javad Karimi Qoddusi, who sits on parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee told Fars News that more MPs were likely to add their names to the letter as well.

MPs are very concerned that the participation of Rafsanjani and Mashaei in the election could lead to sedition, after the Supreme Leader's efforts to quell the sedition of 2009, and that this could damage the Islamic Revolution and and Islam, Karimi Qoddusi said.

Oil Watch: South Korea Halves Imports

South Korea cut crude shipments from Iran by 51% in April from a year earlier, according to the Korea Customs Service.

Purchases last month were 507,821 metric tons, or about 124,000 barrels a day, compared with 1.04 million tons a year earlier.

April's figure was more than 8% lower from March's imports of 556,658 tons in March.

South Korea halted imports of Iranian crude in August and September amid US and European Union sanctions but resumed in October after Iran offered its own vessels and insurance for transport.

Presidential Election Watch: Haddad-Adel Calls For Unity

Presidential candidate and 2+1 Coalition member Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel has called for unity among principlists in the light of the entry into the Presidential race of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad's right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei.

Haddad-Adel also said the 2+1 Coalition was almost ready to declare a "unity" candidate, a line that the committee has been repeating for some months without any breakthrough as to who that candidate should be.

Press TV quotes Haddad-Adel as saying:

Mr. Qalibaf, Mr. Velayati and I have agreed to pick one of the coalition’s members if our qualification is approved by the Guardian Council.

Presidential Election Watch: Jalili Joins Google Plus

Top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili has become the first Presidential candidate to join social network Google Plus.

Jalili is using the social network as a way to reach out --- in Persian --- to a wider audience in a modern way, a move that shows his campaign team had been planning and organizing a far-reaching campaign far ahead of his formal public announcement that he was running for president.

As of Wednesday morning, 333 people already have Jalili in their Google Plus Circles.

Presidential Election Watch: Jalili Speaks Out In Favor of Olympic Wrestling

Presidential candidate and nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili has added a new dimension to the foreign policy element of his Presidential campaign, speaking out on Twitter this morning about his support for world wrestling.

Jalili showed that he is prepared to express solidarity with the US, if only on this important issue, saying that he stood by those in America and Russia who wished to maintain wrestling as an Olympic sport.

Election Watch: Rafsanjani Bashing

Presidential candidate Alireza Zakani has said that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and those who support him cannot win, and his presence in the race only serves to divide the conservatives.

Zakani hinted that the presence of Rafsanjani in the Presidential race could provide the impetus for conservatives and principlists --- who have so far failed to unite behind any single candidate --- to pull together behind a single figure.

Zakani, who is secretary general of the society of followers of the Islamic Revolution is supported by the principlist faction The Front of the Epic-Makers of the Islamic Revolution.

Election Watch: Qalibaf's Spokesman Says 2+1 Doesn't Favor Jalili

The campaign spokesman for Tehran mayor and Presidential candidate has said that the 2+1 Coalition is not considering adding Saeed Jalili to the group.

Qalibaf's spokesman Parviz Esmaili said that a report on Monday citing 2+1 Coalition member Gholam Ali Haddad Adel as saying that the committee might swing behind Jalili did not mean that Jalili was the group's final choice.

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