In this picture taken on Friday, April 14, 2017, Iranian cleric Ebrahim Raisi attends at the Interior Ministry to register his candidacy for the May 19 presidential elections, in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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Campaigning began Friday for Iran's presidential election with incumbent Hassan Rouhani facing a tough battle against hardliners, though not from former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was barred from standing.Iran's elections are tightly controlled, with the Guardian Council allowing just six people -- and no women -- to stand for the May 19 vote out of 1,636 hopefuls that registered last week.If no candidate wins more than 50 percent, a run-off between the top two is held a week later. Rouhani, a politically moderate cleric, squeaked to victory last time with 51 percent in the first round, helped by a divided conservative camp.The Guardian Council has resisted efforts by Iran's parliament, the Majles, to clarify the criteria by which they choose candidates.The build-up to the vote has injected more interest than many predicted just a couple of months ago, when Rouhani was seen as a shoo-in for a second term if only because the conservative opposition seemed unable to offer a strong candidate.
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