April 14 (UPI) -- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ended weeks of speculation Friday when he declared he will run for a second term.
Rouhani, 68, joins candidates including former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who made a surprise announcement earlier this week, and conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, an ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The election is scheduled for May 19. Rouhani registered on Friday with Iran's Interior Ministry, but all candidates in Iran's election -- nearly 900 so far -- must be approved by the Guardian Council, which is expected to announce qualified candidates on April 27.
During a speech Friday, Rouhani said he completed his campaign commitment of improving Iran's economy, an improvement he linked to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear agreement signed between Iran and China, France, Russia, Britain, United States, Germany and the European Union.
Rouhani said securing the nuclear agreement is one of the most important issues for Iran. He said those attempting to undermine or destroy the JCPA will not succeed, adding that those countries involved in the agreement should follow through -- perhaps a statement directed at the United States and President Donald Trump, who said the deal is one of the worst in history.
Rouhani, a moderate cleric, also said that if he is elected to a second term, he will continue a practice of being transparent with the Iranian people. Rouhani suggested the improvements seen in Iran during his term can only be secured if he is elected to a second term.
Ellie Geranmayeh, a senior policy fellow for the Middle East and North Africa program at the European Council for Foreign Relations, told Bloomberg that despite sanctions against Iran being lifted, "people are not seeing a huge elevation for Iran in terms of the economy or its place on the international stage."