Iran’s former moderate president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Tuesday endorsed ally Hassan Rowhani in the June 14 election, saying the candidate is “more suitable” than others for presidency, AFP said.
“I will vote for Dr Rowhani, who entered the race after consulting me,” Rafsanjani said in remarks reported AFP.
“I consider him to be more suitable (than other candidates) to steer the executive branch,” he said referring to the slate of five other hopefuls, most of whom are conservatives.
In May, Iran's electoral watchdog barred Rafsanjani from standing in the presidential election.
Rafsanjani said his disqualification came after “a high-ranking security official, against the norms and law, attended the vetting meeting in the council,” AFP reported.
“The official said: ‘Rafsanjani’s presence in the election could lead to his decisive victory in a landslide’,” the ex-president was quoted saying by AFP, without naming anyone.
“The official then convinced the council to disqualify me on excuses of frailty,” he added.
Rafsanjani is a founder of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought clerics to power, but does not have close ties with the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader.
Meanwhile, Rowhani was successfully vetted by the Guardian Council, which barred Rafsanjani.
“The only remaining candidate is Rowhani,” Mahshid Rahimi, a graduate student at Tehran University, told Al Arabiya.
Rowhani is seen by some as the most moderate choice for a new president. He was the country’s former nuclear negotiator under the former president Mohammad Khatami.
Rowhani also served as top security official under Rafsanjani when he was president.