Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wired News | FACTBOX-Facts about Iran's Rafsanjani

Wired News | FACTBOX-Facts about Iran's Rafsanjani: "Thursday, May 19, 2005 8:51 a.m. ET

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a pragmatic conservative who leads opinion polls for Iran's June 17 presidential election, told Reuters in an interview on Thursday he wanted to repair relations with the United States but Washington must make the first moves.

Here are some facts about Rafsanjani:

- A mid-ranking cleric, aged 70, he heads the powerful Expediency Council, which arbitrates on legislative disputes and which has sought constitutional change in favor of private enterprise.

- Rafsanjani was president from 1989 to 1997 and has also served as parliamentary speaker and armed forces commander. He made a failed attempt to become parliament speaker again in 2000.

- A pragmatic dealmaker, Rafsanjani favors economic liberalisation and detente with the West, while keeping Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's system of clerical rule.

- A central figure since the 1979 revolution, he had a key role in decisions during the 1980-88 war with Iraq and in covert arms-for-hostages deals with Washington in the 1980s.

- He is distrusted by hard-liners and liberals alike for his flexible political style and has faced accusations of opportunism, corruption and human rights abuses.

- Before the Islamic revolution he was tortured under the Shah. He left home at 14 to study under Khomeini in Qom.