Who is Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Iran's latest presidential hopeful?

Qalibaf was involved in crackdowns on students in 1999 and 2003

Iran's parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf has registered as a candidate in the presidential election. AP
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Iran's parliamentary speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf has announced his candidacy for the presidential elections on June 28, following the death of president Ebrahim Raisi and foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in a helicopter crash last month.

He was re-elected as speaker on May 28, after a vote in March.

In 1999, as a commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mr Qalibaf wrote a letter to Mohammad Khatami, Iran's reformist president at the time, to say he would shoot at students holding protests in Tehran if they did not desist.

In the letter, Mr Qalibaf wrote: “Our patience has run out. We cannot tolerate this situation any longer if it is not dealt with.”

Also known for his involvement in the police crackdown against student protests in 2003, Mr Qalibaf moved up the ranks of the Iranian government, serving as Tehran's mayor for 12 years from 2005.

He is part of a circle of conservatives appointed and promoted by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who Mr Raisi was widely expected to succeed.

In April of last year, Michael Eisenstadt of London-based think tank Chatham House said Mr Khamenei had been promoting people “belonging to or with ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps”, including Mr Raisi and Mr Qalibaf.

Mr Qalibaf, 62, had run unsuccessfully in presidential elections, and, in 2017, pulled out to avoid splitting the vote against Mr Raisi.

Mr Raisi lost against his moderate Hassan Rouhani but subsequently rose to power in 2021 in the country's most recent presidential elections.

Following his registration on Monday, the last day for applications, Mr Qalibaf told reporters that his work to resolve the country's economic problems would be squandered if he did not present himself as a candidate.

“If I don't present myself as a candidate, the work that we have started in the last few years to solve the people's economic problems and which is reaching fruition, would not be completed,” he said.

Vetting under way

The semi-official Tasnim news agency said only 80 out of the “hundreds” who had applied for consideration as a presidential candidate have met the registration criteria. Vetting of those who have registered is under way.

Mr Qalibaf replaced Ali Larijani as speaker of the parliament in 2020. Mr Larijani has also registered as a candidate, and was the speaker for 12 years.

Experts say the two are among the top contenders in the presidential race.

Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also a hardliner, announced his registration this week.

Updated: June 04, 2024, 12:17 PM