Reformist Khatami Set to Quit Iranian Presidential Race
The reformist Mohammed Khatami is set to withdraw from Iran's presidential race in June.
Khatami, a former president of Iran between 1997 and 2005, was succeeded by the conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is himself expected to stand for re-election.
Observers say Khatami was a reluctant candidate for this year's election and many people in power in Iran did not want him to return as president.
In February, authorities blocked two websites promoting Khatami's presidential bid.
His supporters said he was pulling out to avoid competing with ex-Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi.
“If Mr. Mousavi is insistent on being a candidate in the election, Mr. Khatami, based on the interests for the country and the reform movement, will pull out from the race and from competing with Mr. Mousavi,” Fars cited Seyyed Hassan Rassouli, the deputy head of the Baran Foundation, which was founded by Khatami, as saying today.
Opponents are seeking to create divisions between his supporters and Mousavi’s in the election, the state-run Mehr news agency yesterday cited Khatami as saying. Khatami said Jan. 12 that he was telling “all reformists and those who seek change from the current conditions” that either he or Mousavi would run against the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Mousavi, Iran’s prime minister between 1981 and 1989, years that coincided with the nation being at war with neighboring Iraq, is a member of the country’s influential Expediency Council, an advisory body to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He enjoys a broad range of support and would be well placed to implement his plans, Khatami said, according to Mehr.
Khatami is reportedly due to announce his decision by the end of the Iranian year on March 20th.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the revolution in Iran.