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Single Candidate Chosen To Represent Reformists In Iran's Presidential Election

Report by Radio Zamaneh & VOA; photos by Amir Pourmand, ISNA

Former Iranian vice president Mohammad Reza Aref has withdrawn from Friday's presidential election.In a Tuesday statement he says he received a letter late Monday from former reformist president Mohammad Khatami saying it would not be wise for him to remain in the race.

Photos: Aref's last campaign rally in Tehran

The withdrawal by the 61-year-old, pro-reform Aref follows calls from reformists to back moderate Hassan Rowami.

Aref is the second candidate to drop out this week. Gholam Ali Haddad Adel withdrew Monday, leaving six men vying to replace President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran's Guardian Council of clerics and jurists approved the list, which is dominated by ultraconservative loyalists of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mr. Ahmadinejad cannot run for a third term, under Iran's constitution.

Before Aref's withdrawal, the top reformist group Executives Party had announced that reformists have chosen Hassan Rohani to represent the reformist coalition in the presidential election. Party leader Gholamhossein Karbaschi told Mehr News Agency: "The ten-member council organized by Mr. Kahtami has announced that Mr. Rohani is the reformist candidate."

An supporter of Aref holding posters of Aref and Rohani

He added that Mohammadreza Aref and Hassan Rohani have announced that they will abide by the decision of top reformist figures.

Karbaschi said polls show that Rohani has a high level of public support, and Aref's withdrawal will further enhance Rohani's chances.

Khatami Backs Moderate in Iranian Presidential Race

Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami says he is backing moderate Hassan Rowami in Friday's presidential election.

Khatami's endorsement Tuesday follows the withdrawal of pro-reform candidate Mohammad Reza Aref, who says he dropped out after receiving a letter from Khatami telling him it would not be wise to remain in the race.


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