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Iran: Rafsanjani refuses to rule out standing for presidency

Mashhad, Sept 16, IRNA -- Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani upped the ante Thursday by not ruling out standing for presidency in Iran's elections next year.

Talking to reporters in this northeastern holy city, the former president stated that he would announce his readiness at an opportune moment.

"I would rather someone else enter the presidential race, but if the society as well as prominent pundits conclude that I can fulfill this task better, I will announce my readiness.

"However, I would like that someone else comes up and I will announce my final decision at an opportune moment.

"We have still plenty of time; let's see if those who are acceptable to the people as well as those who are speculated to take part will ever announce their readiness," Rafsanjani added.

The former president stressed last month that 'if my presence is considered necessary for the establishment and for the revolution, I will not hesitate for a single moment', according to media reports.

The term of Iranian incumbent President Mohammad Khatami ends in June 2005, and while he has served for two terms as president since 1996, he is barred by the country's constitution to run again.

The mid-ranking cleric came with a mandate to establish a rule of law and a civil society as well as push ahead with a raft of reforms which the next president has either to take up from where they were left or discard.

Iranian press is already abuzz with reports about efforts by the reformist camp to pursuade former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi to take up the challenge.

Their efforts are a carbon copy ahead of the 1996 presidential election, which paid no dividends.

Meanwhile, the names of several figures have been mentioned to be likely contenders, including former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, secretary of the Expeciency Council Mohsen Rezaii, as well as top security official and Iran's marksman on nuclear issues Hassan Rowhani.

... Payvand News - 9/16/04 ... --

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