Opposition figure Karoubi asks Iranians to vote for Rouhani on Friday

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

There are now four candidates running for presidency, including incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, Ebrahim Raisi, Mostafa Hashemitaba, and Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin walls in Moscow, Russia, March 28, 2017.

But it has struggled to attract the large-scale foreign investments Mr Rouhani promised when the deal came into force, and which he said were necessary to reduce unemployment and kick-start the economy.

But Khatami has played a prominent role in elections by using social media to urge voters to back pro-reform candidates.

It is extremely important in this situation that Ebrahim Raisi is de facto the successor of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the supreme leader of Iran.

In suspending his campaign, the third unsuccessful run he has made at the presidency, Qalibaf released a statement calling the Rouhani camp of moderates and reformists "pseudo-revolutionaries" who are "consuming the roots of the revolution like termites". Rouhani became thee 10th Iranian President in August 2013.

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While Raisi has vowed to respect the 2015 nuclear deal that Rouhani secured to end Iran's economic isolation, a government led by him would likely alarm worldwide investors considering doing business in the Islamic Republic. "In Tehran, his votes will go mainly to Rouhani but outside Tehran his supporters will vote for Raisi", said political analyst Hamid Farahvashian.

"And also there are conservatives who support Rouhani", the senior research fellow of the Department of Near and Middle East at the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences said.

"Vote for Rouhani because he is the man for hard situations..."

"The biggest fear of the conservatives was that Qalibaf may outperform Raisi on Friday, but not be able to pose a serious challenge, let alone beat Rouhani in the run-off", said Hossein Rassam, a former adviser to Britain's Foreign Office.

Until recently, Raisi, a former prosecutor general of Iran, was a relatively unknown political figure outside the eastern province of Khorasan-Razavi, where he is still the custodian of Astan Quds Razavi, the wealthiest charity in the Muslim world and the organisation in charge of Iran's holiest shrine, the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad. Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions.

However, most Iranians have yet to see the benefits of the nuclear deal. A presidential win would pave the way for a possible succession, while a defeat could scupper his chances.

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