Source: VOA, URL
The eight men vying to become Iran's next president are set to face off in the first of three televised debates.
Friday's debate will be the first chance for the Iranian public to see the eight men on the same stage since campaigning began last week. So far, the candidates' public appearances have been limited to brief campaign stops and some short appearances on television and radio.
On Wednesday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned all the candidates to be truthful and respectful during the debates.
According to remarks published on his website, he said the candidates "should refrain from tarnishing their opponents and the realities of the society just to attract votes."
Four years ago, televised debates between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and pro-reform opponents Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi produced several heated exchanges.
Some candidates have already complained of censorship by authorities.
Mohammad Reza Aref, a former vice president seen by some analysts as the leading reformist candidate, had part of a speech airing on state-run television cut off.
Mohsen Rezaei, who served as commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, complained that parts of his first campaign-related interview on state-run television had been censored.
The first debate is expected to focus on Iran's struggling economy.
Recent government data show the unemployment rate is up to 13.1 percent. Inflation is at 12.1 percent with some economists predicting it could rise to about 30 percent.
Iran has endured several rounds of sanctions imposed by the international community over Tehran's failure to comply with curbs on its nuclear program. Analysts say the sanctions have greatly reduced Iran's crude oil exports, costing the country billions of dollars in revenue.
Profile of Iran's Presidential Candidates:
Mohammad Reza Aref
The 61-year-old was Iran's vice president from 2001 to 2005. He is a member of the Expediency Discernment Council, a top advisory group to the Supreme Leader set up to help break logjams among other governing bodies. Aref teaches at Iran's Sharif University of Technology. He was minister of technology from 1997 to 2001.
The 71-year-old was a member of parliament from 1980 to 1984. He has also served as the minister of information and communication and the minister of petroleum, but has been largely absent from national political life in recent years.
Gholam Ali Haddad Adel
A senior aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 68-year-old Gholam Ali Haddad Adel has been a member of Iran's parliament since 2000. He was speaker of parliament from 2004 to 2008. He has held several other jobs in government, including heading Iran's Academy of Persian Language and Literature. His daughter is married to the son of Ayatollah Khamenei.
The 47-year-old is Iran's current chief nuclear negotiator. He is also the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, which sets Iran's foreign policy. Before taking up that post in 2007 he spent two years as deputy minister of foreign affairs. Jalili was appointed as an advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 and was the director-general of the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He was wounded in the Iran-Iraq War and lost one his legs.
Analysts say he has long been groomed for a top position in Iran and is seen as a front-runner in this election.
Mohammed Baqr Qalibaf
The 51-year-old has been mayor of Tehran since 2005, the same year he unsuccessfully ran for president. He served as chief of Iran's police forces from 1999 to 2005 and was in the military from 1981 to 2005. He also was the head of the air force wing of the Revolutionary Guard.
The 58-year-old placed a distant third in Iran's 2009 presidential elections. He has served as secretary of Iran's Expediency Discernment Council since 1997. The council is a top advisory group to the Supreme Leader set up to help resolve policy differences among other governing bodies. Rezaei was chief commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps from 1981 to 1997. He is on Interpol's Wanted List for alleged complicity in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina.
The 64-year-old is a member of the Expediency Discernment Council - a top advisory group to the Supreme Leader. He heads that council's Center for Strategic Research. He served as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council from 1989 to 2005 and was a member of parliament from 1980 to 2000. He is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, which is a council of clerics that selects the Supreme Leader and monitors his performance. Rowhani served as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election and the appointment of Saeed Jalili to that post.
Ali Akbar Velayati
The 67-year-old is advisor on international affairs to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is also the secretary general of the World Assembly of Islamic Awakening. Velayati was Iran's minister of foreign affairs from 1981 to 1997 and was a member of parliament for one year before that.
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