Principlists Unlikely to Back Rouhani’s Reelection

Principlists Unlikely to Back Rouhani’s ReelectionPrinciplists Unlikely to Back Rouhani’s Reelection

A senior conservative cleric said it is “very unlikely” that the mainstream principlist group would support the incumbent moderate President Hassan Rouhani in the 2017 presidential election.

“Given the status quo, it will be very unlikely that we will back Rouhani,” Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi-Kermani, who is chairman of Combatant Clergy Association, said in an interview with Tasnim News Agency on Monday.

Conservatives oppose Rouhani’s plans to open to the West, despite an urgent need to attract a flow of foreign investment into the sanctions-hit domestic market.

Rouhani’s moderate supporters had forged an alliance with the reformist camp, the main rival of principlists, in the February twin polls for the parliament and the Assembly of Experts, an influential clerical institution tasked with appointing and dismissing the Leader of Islamic Revolution and monitoring his work. Some prominent principlist figures, including Kazem Jalali, the director of Majlis Research Center, also joined the moderate-reformist coalition. Asked about the group’s view of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has recently signaled intention to run for the May 19 presidential vote, Ayatollah Movahedi-Kermani said, “We have not yet discussed that, but I don’t think we will back him either.”