Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Rafsanjani seeks to lead Iran again - (United Press International)

Rafsanjani seeks to lead Iran again - (United Press International): "fsanjani seeks to lead Iran again

Tehran, Iran, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is positioning himself to run again in May's elections, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Rafsanjani would not speak with the newspaper, but his brother said initial polls strongly favored the former president.

"In the last poll, he had about 60 percent -- with a big gap between him and the next, who had 10 or 11 percent," he said.

An ayatollah who advocates free markets, Rafsanjani was the face of moderation in Iran. He persuaded the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, to end the war with Iraq in 1988. In the 1990s, he oversaw the period after the war and Khomeini's death, when he opened up the rigid country.

Rafsanjani was succeeded by a new bloc of reformers led by President Mohammad Khatami, whose landslide victory in 1997 transformed Iranian politics. If Rafsanjani decides to run, he would be considered a conservative candidate, the newspaper said."