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Iran's reformist ex-president Khatami says re-elect Rouhani

Iran's reformist ex-president Khatami says re-elect Rouhani

In this week's Arena, Iranian-Canadian journalist and human rights activist Maziar Bahari, and Iranian academic Mohammad Marandi debate how much of a reformer President Hassan Rouhani has actually been and whether the country has progressed under his leadership.

Rohani, 68, told the crowd at Tehran's Azadi Stadium that "we should not let Iran become isolated again".

"There are reasons to believe that another four years of his presidency will strengthen this basis and enhance mutual trust in the long term", Lukyanov concluded. He is now facing five rivals, but some could withdraw in favor of more prominent candidates.

In recent weeks on the campaign trail Rouhani has also taken aim at the country's Revolutionary Guards claiming that the military institution had attempted to scupper a landmark nuclear deal signed by Tehran in late 2015 with the USA, and five other world powers.

The crowd at Rohani's rally sometimes chanted the names of Mir Hossein Mosavi and Mehdi Karrubi, both popular reformist candidates from the 2009 presidential election who were placed under house arrest in 2011.

Khatami, who served as president from 1997 to 2005, is considered to be the spiritual leader of Iran's reformist, and remains influential among youth despite being under a media ban.

"I am surprised. Those of you who talk about freedom of speech these days..."

Rouhani is seen as the favourite of three moderate candidates taking part in elections, but he is expected to face a strong challenge from Raisi, who is viewed as the clerical establishment's favoured figure.

Khatami also warned people against being deceived by "baseless promises" from Rouhani's conservative rivals, who have vowed to increase cash handouts and create millions of jobs in four years.

"Elections in Iran are very important".

"Our people want political and social freedom".

Official have said that Iranians can vote in the elections at 279 polling stations in 103 different countries.

He is standing for a second term against five other candidates, mostly prominent hardliners, on May 19, with a run-off a week later if no candidate wins more than 50 percent of votes cast in the first round.

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