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Iran Today: Jalili Ramps Up Election Campaign

Jalili Supporters At Friday's Tehran Rally

Presidential candidate and Supreme National Security Council secretary Saeed Jalili has ramped up his election campaigning, holding a rally on Friday at Tehran's Shirudi stadium.

Jalili's campaign team --- which has already shown extensive use of social and internet media, unlike the other candidates --- live-tweeted the event as well as using Instagram and Jalili's own website to promote it.

During the rally, Jalili introduced his campaign manager --- fellow nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri --- and made it clear he was appealing to the religious and military bases of power, including the Basij, Revolutionary Guards and war veterans.

Jalili has presented himself as a "safe" candidate, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War with impeccable revolutionary values, who will remain loyal to the Supreme Leader and as a figure who --- through his role as chief nuclear negotiator --- has demonstrated that he has the Islamic Republic's interests at heart.

Presidential Election Watch: Lawyers, Jurists Supporting Velayati

A group of lawyers and jurists are backing Presidential candidate and Supreme Leader senior adviser Ali Akbar Velayati.

The group issued a statement on Saturday, which noted that, in the light of the situation in Iran, including sanctions and economic pressure, the country required a political leader with vision and intelligence.

After a thorough review of the candidates, the group wrote, they decided to back Velayati, who was known in the international arena as well as at home, and who supported the Islamic Republic's system of Guardian of the Jurist.

Presidential Election Watch: Jalili Campaign Mobilizes Bloggers

Presidential candidate Saeed Jalili's campaign team released a website on Saturday, with an interactive map of pro-Jalili bloggers around Iran's provinces.

The move is an attempt to mobilize popular support for Jalili outside of Tehran.

It is interesting to note that map has a dash of nationalism --- while it is in Persian, Jalili's campaign team have included the title "Persian Gulf" in English, just to make a point. (Iran has contested Arab Gulf states' naming of the body of water as the Arabian Gulf.)

Presidential Election Watch: IRGC Edition

The English service of Fars News --- close to the Revolutionary Guards --- leads with a headline that sounds far more like a campaign press release than a news header: Thousands of University Students Join Jalili's Election Campaign.

The story --- and the fact that the Jalili campaign held its first press conference at Fars News' headquarters in Tehran today --- are a strong signal that the powerful news agency --- and at least some factions within the IRGC --- are backing Presidential candidate Saeed Jalili.

Fars gives Jalili's student campaign leader Seyed Mohsen Dehnavi free reign to make the following assertion: most of the university students have mobilized to support Jalili and this can be clearly seen at the universities.

Writes Fars:

[Dehnavi] mentioned that Jalili's University Students Election Campaign Centers will begin their activities in mosques and city squares next week, and added, "Our advantage on the election scene is having young, innovative and creative forces who are ready to come to the scene to defend their causes and ideals."

Presidential Election Watch: Aref Edition

Press TV reports that Reformist Presidential candidate Mohammad-Reza Aref has said he would accept the final election result, and that those candidates who wanted to win the election must not "sacrifice ethics" as they had done in 2009.

Aref said that only a large turnout in the June 14 election will make it an "epic event" as Ayatollah Khamenei called for in his Nowruz speech.

Presidential Election Watch: Shariatmadari Urges Rouhani, Aref To Form Coalition

Former Minister of Commerce Mohammad Shariatmadari attempting to persuade Hassan Rouhani and Mohammad-Reza Aref to form a coalition with a third moderate candidate.

The aim of such a coalition would be to prevent loss of votes, Mohsen Bahrami, Shariatmadari's spokesman, told Mehr News. Bahrami said he was not aware of any meeting between Aref and Rouhani, but that it was better to reduce the number of candidates to stop vote dilution.

Rafsanjani Watch: Hashemi Publishes Fourth Statement

Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani published his fourth election statement on Friday, in which he thanked people for their support, saying they had endured the "bitter-sweet".

Rafsanjani said that for about a year, ever since the first "whispers" about his participation in the Presidential election had started, he had met with a wide cross-section of society, from war veterans, to academics, to women, to workers and farmers, who had told him that the major problems Iran faced were political divisions, the threat of external sanctions, and economic and cultural issues.

The former President urged moderate Reformists and Principlists to be united for the future.

An EA correspondent notes that in this statement, Rafsanjani significantly did not express appreciation for the Supreme Leader as he usually does, nor did he encourage people to participate in the election.

Rafsanjani Watch: Hardline Clerics Speak Out Against Former President

While Reformist clerics spoke out in support of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani this week, the hardline leader of Friday prayers in Mashhad, Ahmad Alamolhoda, praised the Guardian Council's decision to disqualify Rafsanjani from the Presidential race.

Alamolhoda slammed Ayatollah Khameini's daughter, Zahra Mostafavi, who called on the Supreme Leader to overturn the Guardian Council's decision to exclude Rafsanjani. In her letter, Mostafavi said that her father considered Hashemi a good choice for the next Supreme Leader. Alamolhoda said Mostafavi should not "lie and make up things the Imam did not say."

Rafsanjani Watch: Reformist Clerics Speak Out In Support Of Former President

Following comments by Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei --- an outspoken critic of the regime --- supporting former President Hashemi Rafsanjani on Thursday, more senior clerics have written letters of support to former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, including Grand Ayatollah Asadollah Bayat-Zanjani.

Zanjani, who studied in Qom under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, supported Mousavi in 2009.

In his letter to Rafsanjani, the full text of which was published by the Kaleme website, Zanjani opens with a quote from Surat Hud:

فَاسْتَقِمْ كَمَا أُمِرْتَ وَمَنْ تَابَ مَعَكَ وَلَا تَطْغَوْا إِنَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

So remain on a right course as you have been commanded, [you] and those who have turned back with you [to Allah ], and do not transgress. Indeed, He is Seeing of what you do.

Presidential Election Watch: Jalili Edition --- First The Revolution, Now The Economy

Presidential candidate Saeedi Jalili is emphasizing his economic policies today --- and the team he has gathered to implement them.

Jalili announced on Twitter that he plans to hold an economic conference in the next few days. In another tweet, the nuclear negotiator said that his economics team includes prominent economist Professor Massoud Derakhshan, who founded the Economics faculty at Imam Sadegh University and previously lectured at Oxford.

While today Jalili is emphasizing the economy, on Friday, the Supreme National Security Council established himself as loyal to the Islamic Revolution and the Supreme Leader, telling supporters at Tehran's Shiroudi stadium that the next President must "continue on the path of the Islamic Revolution and must use all available resources to achieve the objectives of the revolution".

Jalili told his supporters that whoever is elected on June 14 must project Iran's power internationally, by "following the path of Ayatollah Khomeini" to expand Iran's influence and reduce that of "the global arrogance".

Presidential Election Watch: Qalibaf To Hit Yazd On Campaign Trail

Presidential candidate and Tehran mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf is to visit Yazd Province on Sunday, Fararu reports.

Qalibaf's campaign chief, Gholam-Ali Sadih, said that the Tehran mayor will address various groups of people in Yazd, including students and faculty from various universities and other higher education institutes there.

In a speech Friday on the anniversary of Iran's liberation of Khorramshahr during the Iran-Iraq War, Qalibaf said that Iran had tremendous natural and human resources but "mismanagement, deficiencies and a move away from Jihadist culture" is hampering the country.

The liberation of Khorramshahr was a "turning point" for Iran, and a symbol of Iran's "sacrifice, struggle and resistance" as well as of those who were the "true followers of the Imam", he added.

Presidential Election Watch: "Rouhani The New Rafsanjani"?

Presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani tweets today about an article by conservative website Asr Iran asking if Rouhani will be "the new Rafsanjani" in the election campaign.

The article discusses Rafsanjani's likely moves following his disqualification, and says that the former President will likely ask Mohammad-Reza Aref and Rouhani to decide which should step down in favor of the other. Asr Iran says that Rouhani will likely run since his positions are "extremely close to Rafsanjani" and many believe Rouhani is "the new Hashemi".

Asr Iran recently published a survey claiming that Rouhani is ahead in pre-election polls.

Presidential Election Watch: State TV To Air Election Programs

The first three Presidential candidates to be allowed airtime on state television will be former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaei, Supreme National Security Council secretary Saeed Jalili, and former Post Minister Saeed Mohammad Gharazi.

Iran's state broadcaster, IRIB, said Friday that each candidate will be allowed to have a 30-minute slot to talk directly to viewers, as well as a total airtime of seven hours on TV and four hours on radio each.

However, unlike in the 2009 election, IRIB has ruled out televised debates between candidates, saying that instead each candidate will be allowed to have a televised debate with "three experts".

Fars News reports today that Rezaei will appear on television at 8 p.m. Tehran time on Saturday, while Jalili will appear in a "special news interview" at 10.45 p.m. on IRIB's Channel 2. Ghazani will appear on the Jam-e Jam network, at 11.30 p.m., where he will answer questions from Iranians abroad, Fars noted.

US Criticises Disqualification of Candidates

US Secretary of State John Kerry has criticised the disqualification of candidates for the Presidential election: “The [Guardian] Council narrowed a list of almost seven hundred potential candidates down to…officials of their choice, based solely on who represents the regime’s interests."

He continued, "That is hardly an election by standards which most people in most countries judge free, fair, open, accessible, accountable elections."

Kerry said Washington saw "troubling signs" that the Iranian government was slowing down or cutting off Internet access to its citizens: "Ultimately the Iranian people (will) be prevented not only from choosing someone who might have reflected their point of view, but also taking part in a way that is essential to any kind of legitimate democracy."

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