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

Tehran's mayor and conservative presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf center right listens to a cleric on his arrival to attend a campaign rally in Tehran Iran. State television said Monday

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday urged Iranians to actively participate in the upcoming presidential elections to decide on the future of their country in the following years.

In Friday's debate, Tehran's mayor and presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf said that Rouhani and candidate Eshaq Jahangiri received "highly subsidized" properties from the government.

The two-time Academy Award victor hoped that many Iranians put aside their "understandable reasons" for not voting and go to the polling booths on May 19.

Iran's presidential elections are typically tumultuous affairs.

"How come you think you were the one who allowed Kurdish language (to be taught)?" As a judge of the clerical court, you can even issue an arrest order.

As the campaigns enter their final week, here is a closer look at Rouhani's two leading rivals.

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Normally measured in his public speeches, Rouhani has become increasingly forceful in recent days, giving voice to the grievances of reformers who say they have been oppressed since the 1979 Iranian Revolution by security forces like the IRGC.

Grigory Lukyanov, an expert on modern history of the Middle East and North Africa and senior professor of the Political Sciences Department at Russia's Higher School of Economics, said if Rouhani remains president, it will have a positive effect on Russian-Iranian relations.

"The people of Iran will announce in this election that they don't accept those who only knew executions and prison for 38 years", said Rouhani at the Monday rally.

Rouhani's biggest worry is that some of the voters who carried him to a single-round victory in 2013 will stay home, disillusioned that the lifting of sanctions has brought few economic benefits and the pace of social change has been slow. "I will vote for Rouhani to prevent Raisi's win".

"Our people want political and social freedom". Lifting the remaining sanctions would be hard, as Khamenei, who has the last say on all state matters, has flatly rejected normalisation of ties with the United States.

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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