Principlists Hold 1st Assembly

Principlists Hold 1st AssemblyPrinciplists Hold 1st Assembly

The Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces, a recently-founded principlist coalition expected to play a big role in the May 19 presidential election, held its first assembly in Tehran on Thursday. 

In the daylong meeting, over 3,000 members from across the country voted to pass the front's statute, Fars News Agency reported. 

It was established last December by 10 principlist figures, including former health minister, Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, Chairman of Tehran City Council Mehdi Chamran and former education minister, Hamidreza Haji-Babaei.

Various principlist groups have joined the front since its formation. 

The founding board was to be replaced by a 31-member central board whose composition was to be decided by the front's members in an election in the Thursday meeting. Members also voted to rank options from a 21-member shortlist for representing the front in the presidential votes. 

The list included Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the former police chief who rose to prominence as Tehran's mayor, Saeed Jalili, the former secretary of Supreme National Security Council, Mohsen Rezaei, the secretary of Expediency Council, and Ezzatollah Zarghami, the former chief of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. Qalibaf, Jalili and Rezaei were candidates in the previous presidential polls in 2013.

  Future Plan  

Vahid Dastjerdi, the front's spokesperson, announced that the central board will hold discussions with those who ranked high in the internal election on their plans and the front's conditions for supporting them. The board will then select 10 candidates who earned the most votes to vie in the second assembly of the front, in which the final candidate will be elected.  Mohammad Hossein Rahimian, a founding member, said the second assembly will likely be held in April.

The front said in a statement on Friday afternoon that the process of counting ballots was still underway and the returns were to be announced later.

The incumbent president has been quiet on his candidacy in the upcoming elections, but he is being regarded as a clear-cut runner, as no Iranian president has ever refused to seek reelection. The principlist front is likely to pose the most serious challenge to the reelection of Rouhani who met the required threshold to avoid a runoff in the 2013 vote by a slight margin. 

Although principlists seek not to repeat their mistake of entering the 2013 race dividedly, the bad news for them is that none of Rouhani's predecessors have failed in their reelection attempts to reach the limit of eight years of consecutive presidency.  Senior figures from the rival reformist camp, whose candidate in the 2013 elections withdrew in favor of Rouhani, have expressed their support for Rouhani in recent months. Hopefuls for the presidential race should sign up from April 11 to 15 and those who successfully pass the vetting process will have 20 days to stage their electoral campaigns from April 28 to May 17.

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