PFIRF to Name Presidential Nominee by May 10

Marzieh Vahid DastjerdiMarzieh Vahid Dastjerdi

The Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces' final presidential nominee or nominees will be announced by May 10, nine days before Election Day.

After its second assembly early this month, members of the front elected a five-member shortlist of nominees for the presidential election.

Speaking to reporters after a central council meeting of the front on Sunday, spokesperson Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi said the front will determine the final choice after carefully evaluating the nominees' plans and campaigns, particularly their performance in speeches and televised debates, while considering their popularity.

The spokesperson said the central council will hold a coordination meeting with the hopefuls in the coming days, whose candidacy is subject to the approval of the election watchdog Guardians Council.

Ranked in order of votes, the five PFIRF nominees were Ebrahim Raeisi, a former prosecutor general and the current custodian of the holy shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH), former parliamentarians Alireza Zakani and Mehrdad Bazrpash, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and lawmaker Hamid Reza Haji-Babaei.

Four of them signed up for the race during the five-day registration period that ended on Saturday, though Bazrpash refused to submit his name.

  Plan for Possible Runoff

Dastjerdi said the front may support two final nominees on the voting day "if we find out that it will be a two-round vote".

Thanking Bazrpash for "respecting collective wisdom", Dastjerdi hoped other principlist nominees who have registered independently will also withdraw.

The front was founded in December by 10 principlist figures seeking to prevent a repeat of their bitter experience of the 2013 race, when President Hassan Rouhani won in the first round by a small margin, aided by a divided field of five principlist opponents.

But it would be tough to create a real challenge for Rouhani, as none of Rouhani's predecessors failed in their reelection attempts to reach the limit of eight years of consecutive presidency. Besides, his second run for office has the unanimous support of the reformist camp.

A total of 1,636 individuals, including 137 women, have put their names down for the election.

The Guardians Council started screening them on Sunday and it could take up to next Tuesday for the process to be completed.

The final list of nominees will be announced by the Interior Ministry, the election organizer, on April 27.

The 20-day campaigning period for the hopefuls is April 28 to May 17.

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