Tehran mayor Qalibaf quits Iran’s presidential race, backs Raeisi

Tehran mayor Qalibaf quits Iran’s presidential race, backs Raeisi
Tehran mayor Qalibaf quits Iran’s presidential race, backs Raeisi
On Monday, Qalibaf announced his withdrawal from presidential race in favor of principlist candidate, Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi.

Tehran mayor and a candidate in Iran's 12th presidential election, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, has issued a statement announcing his withdrawal from the presidential race while backing principlist candidate, Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi.
"The day I decided to enter the election despite my personal interests, I was aware that I would face difficult and dangerous conditions," Qalibaf said in the statement on Monday.
He added that it was clear to him that bringing about any fundamental change to the status quo would not be possible unless through a fight against the "four-percent" affluent minority, which has been in control of the country's economic and political resources for long years.
Qalibaf, a former Revolutionary Guards commander and police chief, was one of the main challengers to President Hassan Rouhani who is seeking a second term.
In the last election four years ago, Qalibaf finished second but with just 16.5 percent of the vote. Rouhani averted a second round by winning just over 50 percent.
This time around, principlists who want to unseat Rouhani are mainly placing their trust in Ebrahim Raisi, a jurist and Shi'ite cleric who studied at the feet of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They were not happy that the maverick Tehran mayor was standing again and thereby raising the risk of splitting the anti-Rouhani vote.
"I should take an important decision to keep the unity of revolutionary forces," Qalibaf said in a statement published in state media. "I ask all my supporters around the country to use all their capacity to help my brother, Mr Ebrahim Raisi, win the election."
Raisi and Qalibaf were following the same campaign tactics, criticizing Rouhani's economic record and his policy of detente with the West. Both presidential hopefuls jumped on the Islamic Republic's unemployment rate, which rose to 12.4 percent last year, up 1.4 percent from the previous year.
Raisi and Qalibaf promised to create five to six million jobs in their first term if elected and to triple the monthly cash handouts to Iran's poor, but drew criticism for not explaining how they would fund such programs.