Rouhani looks to beat hard-liner as Iran prepares to vote

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A supporter of the Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi holds his poster and Iranian flag during a street campaign ahead the May 19 presidential election in downtown Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, May 17, 2017.

"I have honored all the promises I campaigned on four years ago", Rouhani said.

The source also rejected rumors about Nategh-Nouri's dismissal by Khamenei.

On May 19th voters in Iran will go to the polls to elect a new president as well as local officials.

According to The Star's article Iran's re-engagement with the world at stake in Friday presidential vote, seeking a second term, pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani, 68, remains the narrow favourite, but hardline rivals have hammered him over his failure to boost an economy weakened by decades of sanctions.

Rouhani, a moderate reformist, and Raeisi, the guard of the sanctuary of Imam Reza and a conservative or principled (he follows the foundational postulates of the 1979 Islamic Revolution), are the candidates with more possibilities to win the majority of votes.

In the last Iranian year ended March 20, the country's steel output increased 11% year on year to 18.46 mln mt and exports jumped 40.6% to 5.53 mln mt. Auto exports rose 37% year on year.

Under Rouhani, the strategy is to maintain the domestic repression, continue the nuclear and missile program in a less provocative manner, engaging with the West without changing the fundamental principles of the regime to gain Western support to overcome the deadly crisis the regime is facing. Rouhani won the 2013 presidential election with almost 51 percent of the vote. First, it will be evident - especially to Iranians - that the election was stolen, so the Iranian people will be that much more alienated from their rulers.

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Khameneiis deeply suspicious of the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump's tougher stance on Iran has stoked concern as well, though his administration this week took a key step toward preserving the Obama-era nuclear deal.

Rouhani came to power four years ago with more than three times as many votes as his nearest rival, on promises to reduce Iran's worldwide isolation and grant more freedoms at home. Ayatollah Khamenei added that the judgment of the two groups would be premised on the people's turnout on elections day. All candidates for elected office must be vetted, a process that excludes anyone calling for radical change, along with most reformists.

Although public knowledge of the massacre reflects particularly badly on Raisi, it does not reflect well on Rouhani, who held a position of prominence in the regime at the time and who appointed another member of the death commission, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, as his Justice Minister after winning the presidency in 2013.

"I represent laborers, women without guardians, those who have a lot to say but have no microphone", the 56-year-old cleric said in a televised presidential debate.

Raisi has accused Rouhani of being corrupt and of mismanaging the economy. But she eventually chose to vote for Rouhani, she said, because former president Mohammad Khatami, spiritual leader of the pro-reform movement, had publicly backed him. Some experts say Iranian establishment figures may want to keep Rouhani in power to avoid being cast back into isolation.

He promised to achieve the aims sought by reformists, but without crossing the lines that would provoke a hardline backlash, and heal wounds of the previous presidential election, when mass reformist protests were violently crushed after the disputed the re-election of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ayatollah Khamenei underscored the significance of "discipline" both before, during and after the election, adding "people's adherence to discipline and law is very important".