Iran reformist candidate Mohammad Reza Aref quits presidential race

Reformist candidate Mohammad Reza Aref addresses a group of his supporters in the southeastern city of Kerman on June 10, 2013. (Photo courtesy: Press TV)

The candidates in Iran’s presidential elections have been whittled down to six after reformist Mohammad Reza Aref on Tuesday became the second candidate to drop out in the space of two days.

Aref was the sole reformist candidate in the June 14 ballot, withdrawing from the race after receiving a letter from the reformist former President Mohammad Khatami, his website reported on Tuesday morning.

"At dusk on Monday... I received a letter from Mohammad Khatami... he said it would not be wise for me to remain in the race," Aref wrote in his withdrawal statement.

Infographic: Who will be Iran's new president? (Design by Farwa Rizwan/Al Arabiya English)

Infographic: Who will be Iran's new president? (Design by Farwa Rizwan/Al Arabiya English)

In recent days, calls have grown from within the reformist camp for Aref to quit in favor of the moderate candidate Hassan Rowhani, AFP reports.

Aref’s withdrawal follows that of conservative former parliament speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel on Monday.

Haddad-Adel, a close adviser and a relative by marriage of clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had been a member of a coalition of conservative “Principlist” candidates that included Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati.

“With my withdrawal I ask the dear people to strictly observe the criteria of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution(Khamenei) when they vote for candidates,” Haddad-Adel said in a statement carried by the semi-official Mehr news agency.

Haddad-Adel did not endorse a single candidate, but called for a hardline conservative victory. “I advise the dear people to take a correct decision so that either a Principlist wins in the first round, or if the election runs to a second round, the competition be between two Principlists.”

The presidential vote on Friday will be Iran’s first since 2009, when mass protests erupted after losing reformists disputed the election results, saying they were rigged to favor President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

(With Reuters)

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:40 - GMT 06:40