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Iran election: Jahangiri quits, backs Rouhani

Many observers predicted Jahangiri would pull out of the race ahead of Friday's vote
Eshaq Jahangiri gives an interview with AFP in Tehran on 9 May 2017 (AFP)

Iran's vice president Eshaq Jahangiri has pulled out of the presidential election and said he will endorse the incumbent, Hassan Rouhani, the ISNA news agency has reported.

"I will vote for Mr Rouhani in the presidential election," Jahangiri said as he announced he was withdrawing his candidacy. Iranians go to the polls on Friday.

Jahanigir is part of the president's inner circle and was universally regarded as a “support” candidate for Rouhani.

He enjoyed a strong performance during the campaign, especially in the three televised debates, when he supported Rouhani by providing facts and figures and coordinating attacks on the president’s main opponents.

Jahanigir, who was previously a protégé of former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, has also been an important link between the technocrats and the centrists allied to Rouhani.

Many now believe that the vice president may contest the presidency for real at the next election in 2021.

Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf quit the Iranian presidential race on Monday, backing instead hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi in Friday's vote.