No one can predict who will win the rapidly approaching presidential elections on June 14th, so now is the time for Christians to intercede for Iran’s next president. We must pray earnestly that the winning candidate will prioritise finding a diplomatic solution to the nuclear stalemate, as well as promoting greater freedom of expression and respect for human rights.
Among the many candidates in the running, one relatively unknown figure is Hassan Rowhani, a former nuclear negotiator who, in 2005, took Iran the nearest it has come to a substantive diplomatic agreement with the west since the 1979 Islamic revolution. There are hopes that as president, he could make the diplomatic breakthrough that would reduce sanctions and stall the possibility of war. Rowhani has also called for a "rights charter" and support for "freedom of expression, thought and discussion". However, this may be a primarily strategic move: though a pragmatic conservative himself, Rowhani will be actively seeking to secure the votes of the many reformists who would not otherwise bother to vote on June 14th due to the likelihood of another rigged election.
Rowhani will run against many other candidates, but the final list has not yet been released. Next month the Guardian Council will decide whether to allow President Ahmadinejad's ally, Efsandiar Rahim-Mashaei, to run. If he makes the ballot, Mashaei, who believes in dialogue with all nations, may be toted as the favourite to win according to some commentators. However, three of the past four presidential elections have sparked surprises. Let us pray that whoever wins will be able to bring some positive change and hope for the Iranian people.
• A diplomatic breakthrough on the nuclear issue
• The next President to allow greater freedoms, including freedom of religion
• The elections to be fair, transparent and peaceful