TEHRAN, Iran — Six candidates, mostly conservatives picked by Iran's influential Guardian Council, are jockeying to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran’s June 14 presidential election. Who are they? What do they want? And how do they view the West?
Hassan Rouhani, 65
- member of the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts
- former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (1989-2005)
The country’s chief nuclear negotiator from 2003-2005 — and longtime public servant — Hassan Rouhani is the only cleric running in the election. He has been extremely critical of the Ahmadinejad government. Rouhani is largely considered a moderate reformist who may also attract votes from Iran’s conservative constituency. He holds a law degree from Tehran University, and Master’s and Doctorate degrees from the Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland.
Mohammad Gharazi, 72
- former petroleum minister
- former post, telegraph and telephone minister
Early in his career, Gharazi, an electrical engineer, was considered a leftist, along with former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Moussavi. He is now running for president as an independent candidate, and has strongly criticized the West for its approach to Iran and its nuclear program.
Gharazi’s campaign has so far mostly focused on economic issues, including inflation. During the televised presidential debates, Gharazi accused both reformist and conservative camps of gross mismanagement of the country over the past two decades.
Mohsen Rezaei, 59
- secretary of the Expediency Council
- former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander
Rezaei is known internationally for his alleged role in the 1994 bombings of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. In 2007, Interpol issued an arrest warrant for him in light of his involvement. This race is the third time Rezaei has run for president, after he came in third in the 2009 elections. He has focused primarily on the economy and corruption, and is running as independent candidate.
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, 52
- mayor of Tehran
- former chief of police
A previous air force commander, mayor, and police chief, Ghalibaf is know for having improved the Iranian capital’s infrastructure. He also set-up an emergency hotline, allowed women to join the police force and renewed his forces’ equipment. Ghalibaf ran for president here in 2005, coming in fourth. In the run-up to the election, he has led some voter opinion polls in Tehran.
Ali Akbar Velayati, 68
- senior adviser to the Supreme Leader on international and diplomatic affairs
- former minister of foreign affairs
Velayati is one of Iran’s longest-serving politicians. He was minister of foreign affairs for 16 years, under both President Ali Khamenei and President Hashemi Rafsanjani. He is a traditional conservative, but has criticized Ahmadinejad for his foreign policy, and said he wants to improve Iran’s international relations. A German court concluded, however, that Velayati approved the killings of several Kurdish leaders at a restaurant in Berlin in 1992. Having specialized in Paedatric medicine at Johns Hopkins University, Velayati runs a hospital in northern Tehran.
Saeed Jalili, 48
- secretary of the Supreme National Security Council
Jalili, the youngest of Iran’s presidential candidates, believes in Islamic governance and a hardline stance in the face of threats from Western countries surrounding Iran’s nuclear program. Jalili has the support of the ultra-conservative cleric, Ayatollah Mohamed Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, previously seen as Ahmadinejad’s spiritual mentor. Jalili served as an adviser to Ahmadinejad, who appointed him deputy minister of foreign affairs for Europe and America. He is also the country’s top nuclear negotiator. Jalili holds a doctorate degree in political science from Imam Sadegh University in Tehran.