External Affairs

Ex-President Rallies Support for Re-Election of President Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a news conference near the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 22, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson/Files

Dubai: Former president Mohammad Khatami, considered the spiritual leader of Iran’s reformists, urged voters on Sunday (May 14) to re-elect President Hassan Rouhani and support his policy of seeking to end Iran’s isolation from the rest of the world.

Iran’s hardline security and judicial powers, which operate separately to the presidency and are close to Iran’s ultimate authority – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – have banned media from publishing Khatami‘s image or mentioning his name.

But Khatami has used social media to gather a backing for pro-reform candidates.

“We have started on a path with Rouhani and we have come half way. We have resolved some problems and bigger problems remain for us to resolve on this difficult path with him,” Khatami said in a video message, “It is now your turn to renew your vote for our dear Rouhani in order to strengthen hope for a better future.”

Rouhani, a pragmatist Muslim cleric, was elected in a landslide victory in 2013 on promises to ease the Islamic Republic’s international isolation and open up the society.

In his first term, Rouhani pushed through a landmark agreement with global powers to limit Iran’s nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international financial sanctions.

However, even his supporters acknowledge he has made relatively little progress on his domestic agenda, after promising Iranians would enjoy the same rights as anyone else.

He is standing for a second term against five other candidates, most of whom are prominent hardliners, on May 19, with a run-off a week later if no candidate wins more than 50% of votes cast in the first round.