Iran election: Jahangiri quits, backs Rouhani

11 2017 shows US Senator John Mc Cain during a press conference at the US Embassy in Sarajevo

11 2017 shows US Senator John Mc Cain during a press conference at the US Embassy in Sarajevo

This week, pro-Raisi users launched a campaign titled "End of the week, Rouhani is gone", posting memes showing the Iranian president ready to leave with a packed bag and suitcase and videos of voters chanting the slogans at pro-Raisi rallies.

President Hassan Rouhani remains the narrow favourite for a second term thanks to Iran's re-engagement with the world after the lifting of sanctions, but has been hammered by hardline foes over his failure to rehabilitate the economy.

The normally mild-mannered cleric is trying to hold on to office by firing up reformist voters who want less confrontation overseas and more social and economic freedom at home.

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"Elections are going to be held in two days in a country with an 80-million population where the nation is getting ready for a passionate and enthusiastic turnout, but peace is preserved everywhere", Ayatollah Khamenei said, while highlighting the significance of this peaceful atmosphere in an otherwise turbulent region. He has accused his conservative opponents of abusing human rights, misusing religious authority to gain power and representing the economic interests of the security forces.

The May 19 election is shaping up primarily as a contest between Rouhani, a pragmatist who has improved the Islamic Republic's relations with the West and sought to liberalise Iranian society, and Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric who served in the judiciary for many years.Rouhani has criticised Raisi's past as a senior prosecutor in the 1980s when thousands of jailed dissidents were executed.

Under Iran's system, the powers of the elected president are circumscribed by those of the conservative supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been in power since 1989. Jahangiri, a reformist politician, was believed to have joined the race to boost Rohani's chances of reelection and defend the government's policies in televised debates. Raisi has promised a return to the values of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iranian media have discussed him as a potential future successor to Khamenei, who turns 78 in July. He leads in the opinion polls ahead of Friday's vote.

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