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Khatami 'pulls out of Iran race'

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7945822.stm Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009 Khatami pulls out of Iran race Iran s former
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 16 6:08 AM
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      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7945822.stm

      Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

      Khatami 'pulls out of Iran race'

      Iran's former president Mohammad Khatami is to withdraw his candidacy from the country's June presidential election, the BBC understands.

      Mr Khatami was president of Iran from 1997-2005 and was succeeded by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a conservative.

      Mr Ahmadinejad is expected to stand for re-election.

      Mr Khatami's decision to withdraw leaves Mr Ahmadinejad in a stronger position, says the BBC's Jon Leyne in Tehran.

      Despite heavy criticism of his management of the economy, among other things, Mr Ahmadinejad could well win another four years in power, our correspondent says.

      Mr Khatami was the most liberal president since the revolution.

      But he entered this campaign reluctantly and unenthusiastically, adds our correspondent, and it soon became clear that many of those in power in Iran did not want him to return as president. One city prevented Mr Khatami from campaigning with the excuse that it would cause traffic jams.

      His withdrawal therefore comes as no surprise, says our correspondent, and Mr Khatami is now expected to endorse former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi.

      Mr Mousavi held office between 1980 and 1988. He is also a member of Iran's Expediency Council which is the country's top political arbitration body.

      The candidacy of more than one reformist may split voters opposed to Mr Ahmadinejad.

      In this 30th anniversary year of the revolution, June's election will give Iranians a stark choice over the future of the Islamic Republic.
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