Iran reformists rally behind moderate candidate in poll
TEHRAN - Agence France-Presse
Iranian supporters of reformist candidate Aref flash the ‘V’ sign for victory. AFP photoThe sole reformist candidate in June 14’s Iranian presidential election, Mohammad Reza Aref, has dropped out of the race, a day after a conservative candidate withdrew from the race.
Aref said yesterday he was pulling out of race following calls for reformists to rally around moderate candidate Hassan Rowhani. Aref said on his website that former reformist President Mohammad Khatami had sent him a letter advising that it “would not be wise” for him to remain as a candidate in the vote. Khatami’s intervention comes amid growing calls in recent days from within the reformist camp for Aref to quit in favor of Rowhani. Khatami’s advisory council said it was backing Rowhani as the “reformist camp candidate.” Rowhani was Iran’s former top nuclear negotiator under Khatami. He has also served as top security official under the former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Aref is the second of the eight candidates in the election to withdraw. Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel, a conservative candidate and a former parliament speaker, withdrew his candidacy in favor of other conservative candidates running for the post.