Iran removes central bank head who is running for president

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has dismissed the central bank governor, Abdolnaser Hemmati, one of the few moderates running in a June 18 presidential election, who said he accepted the decision that he must step aside at the bank in order to stand for president.

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Hemmati, a technocrat appointed central bank governor in 2018, is one of seven candidates for president, with the others mostly staunch hardliners after a vetting body, the Guardian Council, barred leading reformists and conservatives from standing.

Iranian media identified several possible candidates to succeed Hemmati at the bank, including Akbar Komeijani, a deputy governor of the bank, and Hamid Pourmohammadi, deputy head of the Budget and Planning organization. The bank could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a Saturday night discussion on the Clubhouse social media app, Hemmati said Rouhani had told him that he would have to stand down at the bank if he stands for president, “because it affects monetary and exchange rate policies”.

“I told him that I had no problem with his decision,” he said.

The election is forecast to have only a limited impact on Iran’s overall political and diplomatic trajectory, as while elected presidents govern Iran’s day-to-day affairs, it is Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who runs the judiciary, security forces, media and foundations that control much of the economy.

The new president will replace Rouhani, a pragmatist who twice won landslide votes against hardline opponents after campaigning to open up Iran’s economy to the world. Rouhani had only limited success, after the US abandoned a nuclear agreement and reimposed sanctions.

Among the approved presidential candidates are former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezaee and hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi.

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