Iran candidates sign up for presidential race

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waves to reporters as he comes to register his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections at the interior ministry in Tehran on May 8, 2009. Ahmadinejad was the second of the four leading candidates expected to stand in the June 12 election to formally register. (Xinhua/Ahmad Halabisaz)

by Xinhua writer Liang Youchang
TEHRAN, May 8 (Xinhua) -- The two prominent conservative candidates -- the incumbent president and a former Revolutionary Guards chief -- formally registered their candidacy on Friday for the June 12 Iranian presidential election.
"I must do my best to make this election the best one and take part in it," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told reporters after going through the registration procedure in the Interior Ministry's registration center.
Ahmadinejad, who was elected president in 2005, had not officially announced his election bid until his registration on Friday, though one of his senior aides said in January that the hard-liner president would seek a second term.
Many observers believed that no other candidates so far in the conservative camp could threaten Ahmadinejad's presidential bid.
Earlier on Friday, Iran's former Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Mohsen Rezaei, a moderate conservative, also formally registered his candidacy for the presidential race.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds up his identification as he waits to register his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections at the interior ministry in Tehran on May 8, 2009. Ahmadinejad was the second of the four leading candidates expected to stand in the June 12 election to formally register. (Xinhua/Ahmad Halabisaz)

Speaking to reporters after his registration, Rezaei criticized Ahmadinejad's management of the economy, saying the country's economy needed "fundamental changes."
"We could not enjoy desirable economic growth because of the Iranian economy's low efficiency and its declining trend," said Rezaei, who is now secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council.
Rezaei, who was IRGC commander from 1981 to 1997, also ran as a candidate in the last presidential election in June 2005, but withdrew just two days before the election.
Analysts said the influence of Rezaei was no match to that of Ahmadinejad, who still enjoys wide-spread support of many conservative parties.
So far, two reformist heavyweights -- Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the prime minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989, and Mehdi Karroubi, who served as parliament speaker from 1989 to 1992 and from 2000 to 2004 -- have announced to run for presidency but have not registered.
Mousavi was considered by many observers as the main challenger to Ahmadinejad, whose track record in the economic field was a frequent target of criticism by other presidential candidates.
At a gathering of medical practitioners in Tehran on Friday, Mousavi said the Ahmadinejad administration tried to avoid criticism by releasing "contradictory statistics."
"This trend deprives researchers and social experts of the possibility for criticizing the government," Mousavi was quoted bylocal Mehr news agency as saying.
The reformist candidate made it clear that he considered "young people's unemployment and resolving the inflation issue" as two priorities for his future administration.
Candidates can register their names with the Interior Ministry from May 5 to May 9. So far more than 170 people have registered as prospective candidates.
According to Iran's laws, the president is elected for a four-year term by the direct vote of the people and may not serve for more than two consecutive terms.
Iran's Guardians Council will finalize the name list of those who can run for the presidency after screening the registered candidates.

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