Conservative drops out of Iran election to back hard-liner

Tehran's mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a candidate for Iran's upcoming presidential election, said on Monday that he decides to withdraw from the presidential race to back another candidate Ebrahim Raisi, state TV reported.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's re-election campaign received a lift as a fellow moderate withdrew from the race, and he was endorsed by the influential grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic.

Others posts by the conservative camp allegedly show Rouhani's auto being attacked by protesters, scenes that went viral around the country. In the early 2000s, during George W. Bush's presidency, Zarif, as Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, and the highest-ranking Iranian official in the United States given the absence of an embassy there, was reportedly involved in behind-the-scenes exchanges that sought to resolve a number of issues with Washington. "This great ideal can only be achieved by changing the status quo".

Ghalibaf joined Raisi onstage at a rally Tuesday in Tehran and they clasped hands.

According to local Iranian news outlet Tasnim News Agency, Raisi reportedly expressed his gratitude to Ghalibaf saying 'I thank him.

There was no immediate reaction from Rouhani. The election will be held on Friday, May 19.

Raisi is believed to be the favorite of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who will remain Iran's top decision-maker, but it's unclear whether Raisi will be able to unseat Rouhani.

It's unclear how much support Qalibaf enjoys today.

Reformist candidates and women were again excluded from the ballot by a clerical. "However, I don't think there will be a significant impact as Qalibaf got [just] six million votes in 2013", he said.

Iranians will go to the polls Friday, the same day Donald Trump begins his first foreign trip as U.S. President arriving in Saudi Arabia, where the kingdom's leaders vowed this month to start "the battle against Iran".

Iran elects a President for a four-year term by direct vote. Raisi has been campaigning on that, proposing populist cash payments for the poor that have proven popular in the country in the past under Ahmadinejad. Rouhani is the incumbent president who helped to negotiate the nuclear deal.

However, Raisi's candidacy also has revived the controversy surrounding Iran's mass execution of thousands of prisoners in 1988, one of the darkest moments of the country's history since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and one still not acknowledged by its authorities. He is a cleric who represents the moderate or reform wing of Iranian politics.

Having now called on conservative voters to unite behind Raisi, Qalibaf could conceivably upset forecasts that Rouhani was on course for a comfortable victory.

Qalibaf's allies had argued that he had more recognition in the capital Tehran and among young voters, and offered a more coherent economic plan than some other conservative candidates.

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