TEHRAN, April 23 (UPI) -- The presidential contest in Iran is heating up as a former Revolutionary Guard Corps commander enters the ring and the incumbent loses key support.
Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of the administrative Expediency Discernment Council, announced he would run under the Principlist ticket for the Iranian presidential contest on a platform embracing a coalition government, Press TV reports.
Several Principlist leaders, from Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf to Iranian Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani, were considered top choices for the race.
Principlist leaders, however, have seemingly thrown their support behind Rezaei based on the desire to move toward unity.
The move comes as members of the conservative Combatant Clergy Association decided against backing incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the June contest.
"The majority of the members of the (Combatant Clergy Association) voted in favor of Ahmadinejad, with a minority remaining silent," said association member Gholam-Reza Mesbahi-Moqaddam. "But a consensus could not be reached, as a quorum in support of the president could not be met."
He added that many members of his party had issued a variety of criticisms against Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad is widely expected to seek another term in office, though he has yet to announce his candidacy. Despite the lack of Principlist support, his campaign said he will run as an independent candidate.