Conservative former parliament speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel on Monday withdrew his candidacy from Iran's June 14 presidential election, Iranian media reported.
Haddad-Adel, a close adviser and a relative by marriage of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had been a member of a coalition of conservative "Principlist" candidates that included Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati.
"With my withdrawal I ask the dear people to strictly observe the criteria of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution (Khamenei) when they vote for candidates," he said in a statement carried by the semi-official Mehr news agency.
He did not endorse a single candidate, but called for a hardline conservative victory. "I advise the dear people to take a correct decision so that either a Principlist wins in the first round, or if the election runs to a second round, the competition be between two Principlists."
Haddad-Adel was approved to run in the election last month by the Guardian Council, a vetting body of preachers and jurists, along with seven other men. The slate of candidates is largely dominated by conservatives close to Khamenei.
The presidential vote on Friday will be Iran's first since 2009, when mass protests erupted after losing reformists disputed the election results, saying they were rigged to favour President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iranian watchdog denies banning candidate for 2013 election -
In related news, the Guardian Council said it is not banning any candidate from Iran’s June 14 election, despite media reports stating that two moderates could be barred.
Mehr, a well-known news agency in Iran, reported on Sunday that the Guardian Council was considering the ban of moderate cleric candidate Hassan Rohani for discussing classified information during a recent televised debate.
The hot button issue has centered on Iran’s standoff with the West regarding its nuclear program. Currently, there are sanctions imposed over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment or open up to nuclear inspections by the United Nations.
"A further review of the qualifications of candidates has not been raised and we deny such a thing," Abbas Ali Kadkhodai told the IRNA news agency. However, Kadkhodai said the body still has the right to review candidates in accordance to the country’s election law.
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