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Iranian President dismisses pullout of reformist candidate from race

Tehran, May 26, IRNA-President Mohammad Khatami brushed aside Wednesday speculation about possible pullout of Mostafa Moin from the presidential race, stating that such a move would mark a 'strategic blunder'.

"He (Mostafa Moin) will certainly participate (in the race) and otherwise, God forbid, he will commit a strategic blunder," Khatami told reporters.

Moin had been disqualified by the Guardian Council but the supervisory reinstated him as well as Vice President Mohsen Mehralizeh on the advice of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The two were among more than 1,000 aspirants who were disqualified from standing as the Guardian Council expressed frustration with the high number of registrations.

Khatami expressed his satisfaction with 'the leadership's prudence' in having the two candidates reinstated, saying he thought more candidates should have been allowed to compete in the June 17 election.

The Guardian Council had initially qualified six candidates, including former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani before reversing its ban on Moin and Mehralizadeh.

The other qualified candidates are former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi, Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, ex-police chief Mohammad Reza Qalibaf as well as Mohsen Rezaei, the former commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps, and the former head of the state broadcasting Ali Larijani.

Khatami lent his weight to the make-up, saying 'more or less (people of) all tastes can find their favorite candidates among the qualified nominees'.

The incumbent president further backed women's bids to become presidents even as the Guardian Council blocked all female candidates from standing.

"If it was up to me, I would have said women can become presidents," Khatami said.

Women's presidential bids face a stiff constitutional impediment because of controversy over a part of the Iranian law which requires candidates to be 'rejal', interpreted by some as politicians and others as 'men'.

"God willing, judicial authorities will conclude that our women can also become presidents given the capacities which they have," Khatami said.

Khatami is nearing the end of his second consecutive term and the Constitution bars him from serving more than two consecutive mandates.

Khatami's eight-year tenure, who won a landslide reelection in 2001, was far from plain-sailing, and he repeatedly complained of lacking enough power to deliver on his promises.

He saw his bid to prop up presidential powers quashed after two of his bills failed to make it through the screening of the country's supervisory apparatus.

On Wednesday, he tried to reconcile the reformist and fundamentalist currents, which constitute the backbone of the Iranian politics.

"I believe there is no difference between fundamentalism and reforms if fundamentalism means defending the principles which the people call for...and if reforms mean continuing efforts in order to achieve our common objectives and reforming strategies on how to achieve them," Khatami said.

Last December, President Khatami took up his familiar refrain to remind Iranian officials of the need for competitive elections, where eligible groups of all political hue are given an even chance in the next presidential race.

Recalling his trademark call for the rule of law and a civil society, Khatami took the stage at parliament, where most of his supporters were ousted by their rivals during February 2003 parliamentary election.

"We must learn how to compete in being diverse and plural, and must not mistake competition for fighting.

"The thinking that only one taste rules the society and unity be sought within such an ideology is both impossible and unfavorable.

"It is impossible to realize democracy and meet people's demands with a totalitarian culture as well as self-centeredness, reclusiveness and opposition to pluralism.

"There is need for creating conditions where all groups and political parties affiliated to the establishment and (loyal) to the Constitution can call on the people to participate in the polls and hold a lively election," Khatami said.

... Payvand News - 5/26/05 ... --

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