Iran's parliament speaker Qalibaf signs up for presidential race

Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a parliamentary candidate, casts his vote at a mosque in downtown Tehran

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a former Revolutionary Guards commander, on Monday announced he would run for president to succeed Ebrahim Raisi who died last month in a helicopter crash, state media reported.

Qalibaf, who has unsuccessfully contested two presidential races and dropped out of a third to avoid splitting the hardline vote, signed up to run in the June 28 election despite being re-elected as parliament speaker last week.

"If I don't present myself as a candidate, the work that we have started in the last few years to solve the people's economic problems and which is reaching fruition, would not be completed," Qalibaf told reporters.

Qalibaf registered as a candidate on the last day of a five-day registration period on Monday. The cleric-led Guardian Council will vet candidates hoping to run for the presidency. Moderate politicians have accused the 12-member body of disqualifying the rivals of hardline candidates, who are expected to dominate the race.

A lack of choice on the ballot, combined with rising discontent over an array of political, social and economic crises, could dent turnout and thus the legitimacy of Iran's theocratic system of government.

Moderate former first vice-president Eashaq Jahagiri also registered on Monday. Other well-known figures who have signed up include hardline former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and former parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, a prominent conservative and ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

An election official told reporters on Monday that 59 hopefuls had signed up by midday.

Within Iran's complex mix of clerical rulers and elected officials, Khamenei has the final say on all state matters such as nuclear and foreign policies. But the president will be in charge of tackling deepening economic hardship.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Ros Russell)