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Rowhani gets Karroubi backing in elections


Iranian opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi, under house arrest since 2011, will back President Hassan Rowhani’s bid for a second term in Friday’s election, his family said.

Rowhani, a pragmatist who has eased Iran’s international isolation and now faces mostly hardline conservative challengers for the presidency, told supporters he needed a stronger mandate to liberalise Iranian society and get opposition leaders freed.

Karroubi, 80, and fellow reformist Mirhossein Mousavi ran for election in June 2009 and became figureheads for Iranians who staged mass protests after the vote they believed was rigged to bring back hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“My father believes in reform through the ballot box,” Karroubi’s son, Mohammad Taghi Karroubi, said in a telephone interview. “He believes people should take part in elections to fight against those who want to turn the Islamic Republic into an Islamic state.”

Karroubi asked all Iranians to take part in the election and to protect the democratic process by choosing their preferred candidate, but said: “I will vote for Rowhani of course.”  This would be the first time Karroubi votes in any election since his arrest. In the parliamentary election in 2016, he said he would have voted but his family said the ballot box reached his home too late.

If no candidate win more than 50 per cent of the votes in the election on May 19, a run-off will be held a week later.