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DUBAI: Iranians will choose mostly from hard-line candidates in early presidential elections due on Friday following the death of Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash.
Only six candidates out of more than 80 candidates survived selection by the hard-line Guardian Council, a panel of clerics and lawyers overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state affairs. Two hardline candidates withdrew from the race before the election.
The president, who runs the government on a day-to-day basis and has special responsibility for Iran’s struggling economy, is ultimately accountable to the Supreme Leader.
Below are brief sketches of three radical and one moderate candidates in the upcoming elections:

A former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and an ally of Khamenei, Qalibaf is the current speaker of the hardline-dominated parliament. He has previously run unsuccessfully for president twice and was forced to withdraw from a third attempt in 2017 to prevent a split hardline vote in Raisi’s first failed presidential bid.
In 2005, Qalibaf resigned from the Guard to run for president. After an unsuccessful campaign, he took over as mayor of Tehran with the Supreme Leader’s approval, a position he held for 12 years.
In 2009, as mayor of Tehran, Qalibaf took credit for helping quell months of bloody riots that rocked the establishment after a presidential election that opposition candidates claimed was rigged to ensure the re-election of radical Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
He is known to civil rights activists as someone who, as head of the national police, suppressed protests by personally beating demonstrators in 1999, and also played an active role in quelling riots in 2003. Qalibaf did not respond to a request for comment on these allegations.

Jalili is a hard-line diplomat who lost his right leg while fighting for the Guard in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Holder of a doctorate in political science, Jalili said he is a devout supporter of Iran’s “velayat-e faqih,” or rule based on supreme jurisprudence, a system of Islamic rule that forms the basis of Khamenei’s position.
Appointed by Khamenei, Jalili served as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for five years from 2007, which automatically made him the chief nuclear negotiator. Jalili also served for four years in Khamenei’s office and was an unsuccessful candidate in the 2013 presidential election.
Former deputy foreign minister Jalili was appointed by Khamenei in 2013 as a member of the Ad Hoc Council, a body that mediates disputes between parliament and the Guardian Council.

An Iranian lawmaker of Azeri origin, Pezeshkian is the only moderate candidate endorsed by the Guardian Council and backed by the pro-reform camp. His prospects depend on attracting millions of disaffected voters who have stayed home since 2020.
Pezeshkian is a doctor by profession. In the years 2001–2005, he served as Minister of Health in the government of reformist president Mohammad Khatami, and since 2008 he has been a member of parliament.
Pezeshkian has been a vocal critic of the Islamic Republic for its lack of transparency over the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian Kurdish woman, in custody, which sparked months of unrest.
Pezeshkian was disqualified from running in the 2021 presidential election.

The only cleric in the race, Pourmohammadi served as interior minister during radical President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s first term from 2005 to 2008.
He was deputy minister of intelligence from 1990 to 1999, and human rights groups alleged that he played a role in the assassinations of several prominent dissident intellectuals in Iran in 1998. He did not comment on these allegations, but a 1998 statement from the Ministry of Intelligence said: “A small number irresponsible, perverted and dishonest Ministry agents, who were most likely puppets of others, carried out these murders in the interests of foreigners.”
Human Rights Watch, in a 2005 report, documented Pourmohammadi’s alleged role in the execution of hundreds of political prisoners in the Iranian capital in 1988.
Pourmohammadi has never publicly addressed allegations about his role in the 1988 so-called “death committee” of religious judges, prosecutors and intelligence ministry officials who oversaw the executions.

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