Mohammad Reza Aref a reformist candidate in Iran’s upcoming presidential election announced his quit from the race in favor of the presidential candidate Hasan Rowhani who is strongly backed by Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
“I quit from the election race because Mr. Khatami advised me to do so,” a statement of Aref published in his website read.
“Mr. Aref will abide by any decision taken by Mohammad Katami,” said Hasan Rasouli, Aref’s spokesman in an interview with Iran’s View on Monday.
“The Advisory Council of the Reformists headed by Mohammad Khatami was in charge of choosing a single candidate for the party,” he said.
Meanwhile Mohammad Reza Aref has repeatedly said he “will stand in the election race till the end.” He has even sworn this morning to not quit the race.
A few days ago his spokesperson told Iran’s View that Reformists chose Aref as the candidate for the party.
But it seems Hasan Rowhani and his supporters were successful to make Aref quit the race.
Hasan Rowhani a former secretary of Iran’s National Security Council and currently an envoy to the supreme leader Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei on the council is backed by Hashemi Rafsanjani the former two-term president of the country.
Aref is backed by the former president Mohammad Khatami who is a leader of the Iranian reformists.
In recent weeks the Reformists front witnessed hot debates between Khatami and Rafsanjani on choosing a single candidate for the Reformists in the presidential election.
Aref didn’t even recognize Rowhani as a reformist. Rowhani once during Khatami’s presidency signed a letter that conservatives wrote against him. In other hand, Khatami and his inner circle believe Rowhani would prefer Hashemi’s interests to the reformists’ approaches.
Anyway the Reformists’ success to have a single candidate is the worst news for the Principalists who have three candidates for the presidential election.
The Principalists failed to form a coalition and choose a single candidate so far. Although Gholam Ali Hadad Adel quit the race on Monday in favor of “all principalists” but given his low performance in the different polls it will not help the Principalists to compete against a strong reformist rival.
The three Principalist candidates who are unlikely to quit in favor of each other are: Saeed Jalili Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Tehran’s mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and former foriegn minister Ali Akbar Velayati
According to the polls and latest analysis after the withdrawal of Aref, Hasan Rowhani will have more than 20% of the ballot and will be competing with the Principalists’ front-runner Ghalibaf who has about 25% of the ballot.
Political observers in Tehran believe if the Principalists fail to form a coalition, Hasan Rowhani will attract a significant percent of the votes and will compete against Ghalibaf in the run-off round.
Iranians will cast their votes in the presidential election on Friday June 14th. A run-off round is expected as none of six remaining candidates are likely to gain 50% of ballots in polls.