Iran’s former moderate president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, on Tuesday endorsed ally Hassan Rowhani in this Friday's election, saying the candidate is “more suitable” than others for presidency, AFP reported.
“I will vote for Dr. Rowhani, who entered the race after consulting me,” Rafsanjani said in remarks quoted by the news agency.
“I consider him to be more suitable (than other candidates) to steer the executive branch,” he added, referring to the slate of five other hopefuls, most of whom are conservatives.
In May, Iran's electoral watchdog barred Rafsanjani from standing in the presidential election.
Rafsanjani said his disqualification came after “a high-ranking security official, against the norms and law, attended the vetting meeting in the council,” according to AFP.
“The official said: ‘Rafsanjani’s presence in the election could lead to his decisive victory in a landslide’,” the ex-president was quoted as saying, without naming anyone.
“The official then convinced the council to disqualify me on excuses of frailty,” he added.
Rafsanjani is a founder of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought clerics to power, but does not have close ties with the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Rowhani, who was successfully vetted by the Guardian Council which barred Rafsanjani, is seen by some as the most moderate choice for a new president. He was the country’s former nuclear negotiator under the former president Mohammad Khatami, reported Al Arabiya.
Rowhani also served as top security official under Rafsanjani when he was president.
He recently accused outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of needlessly incurring crippling economic sanctions.
"I have come forward to save Iran's economy and forge a constructive interaction with the world through a government of wisdom and hope," he said, adding, "This administration made fun of sanctions, deriding them as scrap paper, while we could have avoided them or to some extent reduced" their effect.