TEHRAN, Iran (AP) " Iran's official IRNA news agency is reporting that a hard-line cleric and close ally of the country's supreme leader has announced he will run in the May presidential election.

The Sunday report said Ebrahim Raisi announced his readiness in a statement in which he said the country is suffering from "structural chronic illness and incorrect managerial traditions."

Iranian hardliners had hope Raisi would challenge incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, who is eligible to run for a second term.

The statement says: "The first step for change is to form a powerful and aware administration for serving people and fighting discrimination, poverty and corruption."

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In 2016, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Raisi as head of Imam Reza charity foundation that owns huge business conglomerate and endowments in Iran.