Iran hardliner Ebrahim Raisi registers for election


Iranian hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi registered on Friday to run for next month's presidential election, state television showed.

The 56-year-old has emphasised his concern for the poor and the high levels of unemployment -- considered a weak spot for President Hassan Rouhani who also registered on Friday.

"Despite all the efforts of previous governments, the situation of the country is such that people ask why is there so much unemployment?" Raisi told reporters at the interior ministry where registration was being held.

He said he would announce detailed economic policies at a later date.

"I have come to be the candidate for the whole of Iran. I don't limit myself to a certain group, party or faction," he added.

Having rarely been in the political spotlight, Raisi has given little insight into his view of foreign affairs, but said Friday: "Our relations will be ongoing with every country -- except the occupying regime of Israel -- but on condition of respect."

Iran's conservatives remain divided, but Raisi has emerged as a favourite.

He is considered a close ally of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who last year appointed him to run the powerful charity-cum-business-empire Astan Qods Razavi (AQR), which oversees the Imam Reza shrine in the holy city of Mashhad.

"My mission in AQR has been to help the poor and from the day one we created a department to aid the poor."

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