Thursday, March 17, 2005

Rafsanjani ready to stand in presidential elections -

Rafsanjani ready to stand in presidential elections -: "Rafsanjani ready to stand in presidential elections
3/14/2005 2:05:00 PM GMT

Rafsanjani said that he was ready to stand in the country’s presidential elections, due on June 17.

Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said that he was ready to stand in the country’s presidential elections, due on June 17.

"I am totally ready to be a candidate but I think it is still too early to decide," the influential cleric said on Monday.

"I would still prefer for someone with more energy to enter the stage ... Maybe in the course of the next few days the (campaign) platform of one of the existing candidates or a new candidate will appeal (to Iranians), failing which it will be up to me," he added.

Rafsanjani had already hinted yesterday that he intended a comeback in the elections.

"As we are getting closer to the election, I feel my responsibility is getting heavier and I cannot stand aside," Rafsanjani was quoted as saying by the student news agency ISNA.

"If I determine that the management of the country rests on me alone, do not doubt that I will execute my national and Islamic duty," he added.

President Mohammad Khatami will step down in June after serving his second consecutive presidential term and cannot stand again.

The Iranian constitution bans presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms, meaning Rafsanjani can stand in the next elections.

Rafsanjani – president from 1989 to 1997 – is now deputy chairman of the Assembly of Experts, which appoints Iran’s supreme leader, the highest political and religious authority in the country. He also heads the Expediency Council, which mediates in disputes between the parliament and religious leaders.

Many prominent conservative politicians have also entered the presidential race.

Former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, now a senior consultant to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has announced his intentions to stand for president.

Also Mohsen Rezai, a former chief of the Revolutionary Guards and Alli Larijani, a former state broadcasting manager, entered the race."