Saturday, October 09, 2004

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage: "Iran's Rafsanjani says may stand for presidency
Sat 9 October, 2004 12:17

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian political heavyweight and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has said he is considering standing for the presidency in polls next year, according to a newspaper.

Rafsanjani, a business-minded, mid-ranking cleric would be a strong candidate for president with the likely support of Iran's resurgent conservatives. He is also a top advisor to Iran's most powerful figure Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"If there is no other suitable candidate, I will run in the next presidential elections for the sake of Islam and the revolution," the Hambastegi daily on Saturday quoted the 70-year old as saying in a speech to students in the holy city of Qom.

"I have told the supreme leader not to order me and to let doors be opened for other candidates," he added.

Rafsanjani had previously played down interest in running for president when reformist President Mohammad Khatami has to step down after two terms in office in the middle of next year.

Rafsanjani is seen as a pragmatic conservative whose 1989-1997 presidency was marked by modest cultural relaxations and pushes for economic restructuring.

He heads the Expediency Council, Iran's top legislative arbitration council. The Expediency Council this month overhauled a key plank of the constitution to allow large-scale privatisations.

Although viewed as business-minded, in contrast to radical conservative parliamentarians, Rafsanjani has recently been keen to deny that he has amassed great wealth.

He has been plagued by rumours he and his proteges have huge holdings in pistachio farming, airlines and car industry. He says he is poorer now than before the 1979 Islamic revolution."


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