Iran's President Hassan Rouhani gestures during a ceremony celebrating International Workers' Day, in Tehran, Iran, May 1, 2017. Picture taken May 1, 2017. President.ir/Handout via REUTERS
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Iran's six presidential candidates will participate in a live debate Friday to discuss cultural and political issues ahead of the country's May 19 vote, which will shape the Islamic Republic's economic and domestic policy for years to come.Pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani was criticized by his hardline challengers for failing to bolster the economy in a three-hour debate last week.Rouhani, seeking a second term in office, faced criticism over the economy despite championing the deal reached with six powers in 2015 that led to the lifting of most international sanctions against Iran in 2016 in exchange for curbing Tehran's nuclear program.Analysts said Qalibaf, the former senior commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), had emerged as Rouhani's main challenger after the first debate.
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