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DUBAI: Iranians will choose mostly hard-line candidates in the early presidential election on Friday following the death of Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash.
Out of more than 80 hopefuls, only six candidates survived the hardline Guardian Council, a body of clerics and lawyers overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state affairs. Two hardline candidates dropped out of the race before the election.
The president, who runs the government on a day-to-day basis and has particular responsibility for Iran’s struggling economy, ultimately answers to the supreme leader.
Below is a brief outline of three hardliners and one moderate candidate in the upcoming election:

MOHAMMAD BAQER QALIBAF
Qalibaf, a former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and an ally of Khamenei, is the current speaker of the hardline parliament. He previously ran for president twice unsuccessfully and was forced to withdraw from a third bid in 2017 to prevent a split, hard-line vote in Raisi’s initial failed presidential bid.
In 2005, Qalibaf resigned from the Guard to run for president. After his unsuccessful campaign, with the support of the supreme leader, he accepted the post of mayor of Tehran, which he held for 12 years.
In 2009, Qalibaf took over as mayor of Tehran to help quell months of bloody riots that rocked the institution after a presidential election that opposition candidates said was rigged to re-elect hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
He is known to civil rights activists as the one who cracked down on protests as a national police chief, who personally beat protesters in 1999 and played an active role in quelling riots in 2003. Qalibaf did not respond to requests for comment about the allegations.

SAEED JALILI
Jalili is a hardline diplomat who lost his right leg fighting for the Guard in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Jalili, who holds a doctorate in political science, has said he is a devout believer in Iran’s “velayat-e faqih,” or supreme jurisprudence, the Islamic system of government that underpins Khamenei’s position.
Appointed by Khamenei, Jalili served as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for five years from 2007, automatically making him chief nuclear negotiator. Jalili also served in Khamenei’s office for four years and ran unsuccessfully in the 2013 presidential election.
Former Deputy Foreign Minister Jalili Khamenei was appointed in 2013 as a member of the Expediency Council, a body that mediates in disputes between the parliament and the Guardian Council.

MASSOUD PEZESHKIAN
Pezeshkian, an Iranian lawmaker of Azeri ethnicity, is the only moderate candidate endorsed by the Guardian Council and supported by the reformist camp. Its prospects depend on whether it can attract millions of disillusioned voters who have stayed home from elections since 2020.
Pezeshkian was a doctor by profession, between 2001 and 2005 he was the minister of health of the reform party president Mohammad Khatami, and since 2008 he has been a member of parliament.
Pezeshkian has been vocal in criticizing the Islamic Republic for its lack of transparency over the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian Kurdish woman that sparked months of unrest.
Pezeskjan was banned from the 2021 presidential election.

MOSTAFA POURMOHAMMADI
The only priest in the race, Pourmohammadi, was the interior minister during the first term of hard-line ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, between 2005 and 2008.
He was deputy intelligence minister from 1990 to 1999, and rights groups alleged that he played a role in the 1998 assassinations of several prominent dissident intellectuals. Some irresponsible, deviant and rogue agents of the Ministry, who were probably puppets of others, carried out these assassinations in the interests of foreigners.”
In a 2005 report, Human Rights Watch documented Pourmohammadi’s alleged role in the execution of hundreds of political prisoners in the Iranian capital in 1988.
Pourmohammadi has never spoken publicly about the allegations related to his role in 1988 in the so-called “death commission,” a group of religious judges, prosecutors and intelligence ministry officials that oversaw executions.

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