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Last Updated: Friday, 13 May, 2005, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
Iran's presidential race hots up
Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf (r) in front of portrait of Ayatollah Khomenei
Qalibaf (r) said he had a good chance of winning
Two more prominent candidates have registered to stand in Iran's presidential elections on 17 June.

Former national police chief Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf told reporters he had a good chance of beating the favourite, ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Tehran's mayor Mahmood Ahmadinejad also registered his candidacy.

Hundreds of candidates have come forward ahead of Saturday's deadline, but many of them are likely to be disqualified from standing.

All candidates have to be vetted by the Guardian Council, a powerful clerical body that scrutinises whether they are honest people and believers in the values of the Islamic republic.

Pragmatic

On Tuesday, Mr Rafsanjani, who has been president twice from 1989 to 1997, officially confirmed he would stand for election once more.

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Polls put Mr Rafsanjani ahead of other candidates

He had said he would not run unless supported by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Mr Rafsanjani, 70, is seen as a pragmatic conservative, open to better ties with the West but more socially conservative than the reformists, the BBC's Tehran correspondent Frances Harrison says.

The current President, Mohammad Khatami, is barred by the constitution from seeking a third consecutive term.

Several unknown candidates registered first, including some women - who are not eligible to stand for the post under Iranian law.


SEE ALSO:
Rafsanjani joins Iran leader race
10 May 05 |  Middle East
Rafsanjani hints at Iran poll bid
25 Apr 05 |  Middle East
Iran's top judge attacks police
05 May 05 |  Middle East
Ebadi anger at women election ban
25 Apr 05 |  Middle East
Iran 'to resume nuclear activity'
09 May 05 |  Middle East
Country profile: Iran
31 Mar 05 |  Country profiles


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