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Iran's Rafsanjani gets major support in presidential race


08:17, May 17, 2013

TEHRAN, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Iran's former president Mohammad Khatami once more voiced support for moderate presidential hopeful Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, Press TV reported on Thursday.

Speaking at a Thursday meeting with reformist activists, Khatami underlined the need for countering the effects of external threats against Iran and alleviating economic pressures on the nation, saying that "considering all these issues, Mr. Hashemi- Rafsanjani is the most appropriate figure whose presence can be effective, and with new plans and views he can play a highly important role."

Khatami, Iran's reformist president from 1997 to 2005, described Rafsanjani's presence in the presidential race as "self- sacrifice" for "national interests," saying "Now it is the people' s turn to enter the scene with bravery and responsibility and assist him," according to Press TV.

Hashemi-Rafsanjani, nearly 80-year-old, served as president from 1989 to 1997 and recently re-ran under the pressure of moderate and reformist groups, who see Hashemi-Rafsanjani as a powerful antidote to the dominance of the hardline conservatives over the social and political structure of the country.

"The reformists enthusiastically welcome Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani 's presence and see themselves on his side," said Khatami on Thursday, adding that "I am sure he will also win a portion of the votes of prudent principlists."

Major reformist figures have not run for Iran's president. Khatami said earlier that "the situation is not ripe" for free competition in the forthcoming presidential election in the Islamic republic.

A total of 686 candidates registered for the upcoming presidential election slated for June 14. However, according to local media, six of them withdrew from their intent later.

Iran's Guardian Council of Constitution, the main legislative body of the country, is now studying the qualification of the candidates and will release the results on May 21.

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