Two Iranian official withdrew on Monday from the presidential race set for June 8, reported the Tehran Times.
It said that Secretary-General of the Islamic Revolution's Youth Association, Mohammad-Javad Nouri, announced that he was withdrawing from the presidential race and would instead support another candidate, Abdollah Jasbi.
Also withdrawing was the director general of Iran's Islamic Welfare Party, Hassanollah Verdinejad, said the paper.
In a letter to the National Elections Headquarters, he said he that he had “decided to vote for President Mohammad Khatami and asked all people to do the same.”
He suggested that it would be best for all other presidential candidates to withdraw.
Khatami, whose decision to run in the elections on Friday ended months of suspense, is widely expected to win a second term despite repeated setbacks to his campaign for greater freedom and democracy, said reports.
Certified candidates are to run their election campaigns on May 19 up to June 6, that is, a total of 19 days, according to the official Iranian news agency IRNA.
Under the country's elections law, a bona-fide candidate must be "a political figure, of Iranian origin, of the official state religion (Islam), faithful to the cause of the Islamic Republic."
Some 42 million Iranians are eligible to vote out of a population of 62 million.
On Sunday, Iran’s Defense Minister Vice-Admiral Ali Shamkhani stepped in as a new candidate for the next presidential elections.
Shamkhani, 46, declined to answer questions posed by reporters who were present at the State Electoral Headquarters at the ministry.
According to the agency, a record number of people have registered their candidacies.
The agency said that, with Shamkhani’s nomination, 359 people had signed up to run for president, but “only a handful are expected to be cleared to run.”
Applications will be scrutinized by the Guardian Council. In the last election in 1997, only four of the 230 or so applicants were endorsed by the Guardian Council - the conservative body which vets candidates.
Among the prominent applicants was former labor minister Ahmad Tavakoli who told IRNA that the goal behind his nomination “is to win the people's confidence through standing against new wave of political opportunists."
50-year-old Tavakoli, a former MP close to the conservative camp, had earlier said he would run as an independent.
Other figures registered recently are Ibrahim Asgharzadeh, a leading figure in the 1979 US embassy seizure, former MP Qassem Sholeh-Saadi, vice-president Mostafa Hashemi-Taba, a founding member of the centrist Executives of Construction Party.
Hashemi-Taba has said he would run as independent for the eighth race – Albawaba.com
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