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Aref drops out of Iran presidential race in favour of 'dark horse' candidate


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Aref drops out of Iran presidential race in favour of 'dark horse' candidate

With just a few days to go, Mohammad Reza Aref has dropped out of the presidential race in Iran.

On his website he explains that the head of the reformist movement Mohammad Khatami had asked him to withdraw.

It follows recent calls for Aref to quit in favour of moderate candidate Hassan Rohani.

Of the six remaining hopefuls, most are conservatives with close ties to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. One conservative, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel also quit the race on Monday.

Though not a declared reformist Rohani’s rhetoric appears to be aimed at their voters.

Political analysts believe the former nuclear negotiator and Muslim cleric could be the dark horse, appealing to moderates in the country. He has called for an end to political suppression and the release of all political prisoners.

Reformists have felt sidelined since the 2009 election, which led to Ahmadinejad’s reelection. Rohani blamed the president’s hardline policies for international sanctions which have crippled the economy.

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