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Netiran>Articles>Politics>Presidency>Velayati to Run for President: "Velayati to Run for President

Sharq, Daily Newspaper, No. 282, Sep. 4th, 2004, Page 1-2
Word Count : 635

Former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati has reportedly decided to run for the 2005 presidential elections. The conservatives have not given their entire go-ahead to his candidacy. Mohammad Javad Larijani, former deputy to Velayati, has recommended him to pull out of the race. The brother of Mohammad-Javad, Ali, may be running for president.




Former veteran prime minister Mir-Hossein Moussavi has kept the reformists on the tenterhooks over his possible bid to stand for the 200 presidential elections. But reliable sources assert that former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati has made up his mind to run for the vote.

"As long as I know, he has decided to stand for the elections and he has even made the arrangements for his campaigning," Hassan Ghafourifard, core member of far-right Islamic Coalition Society, said.

The competition gains momentum in the lead-up to the presidential elections. If Mr Moussavi agrees to run he will have to contest Velayati. In 1997, two clerics of opposing factions were running but this time two laymen may have to compete.

Velayati will certainly run and the reformists have to put up another candidate in case Moussavi turns them down. Former speaker of parliament Mehdi Karroubi, former minister of higher education Mostafa Moin and former education minister Mohammad-Ali Najafi are rumored to be running for president on the reformist camp.

Ghafourifard says more than 20 nominees are in the limelight on the conservative camp. The most important ones are the top nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani, former military commander Mohsen Rezaie, MP Ahmad Tavakoli, Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and former head of the state television and radio Ali Larijani.

Until recently, Larijani was the candidate said to have the biggest change but now Velayati tops the agenda. Rohani is seeking to give a moderate image of himself to win popularity. Tavakoli is the most radical candidate and Mohsen Rezaie may be relying on his past connections to Mehdi Karroubi. The rightist faction may be unwilling to field Tavakoli, Rezaie or even Rohani. Velayati is the best option and Ahmadinejad was put out of the loop. The sole person to drive Velayati out of the loop is the powerful former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. He will be the shoo-in if he decides to run.

Rafsanjani should win over all political factions to be able to win the elections and the rightists and the leftists have yet to reach a consensus.

An informed source says even Hashemi Rafsanjani factors a polarized competition to face Moussavi and Velayati. Partisans of Moussavi say the popular man will definitely win the poll but presence of Velayati will sway the outcome of the elections. Election of Moussavi or Velayati will not bring fundamental changes to the Islamic system and even the policies implemented in the 1980s will repeat.

The candidacy of Velayati will let the reformists take a sigh of relief that the conservatives will not change the structure of the country. Disappointed with any progress, the reformists have contented themselves with avoiding further changes.

Velayati has not been recognized as a hardliner and he has 16 years of experience in Iran's diplomatic process. Now the Islamic Republic faces major challenges and his presence is good. Velayati has experience of negotiating with the Westerners and he led both peace and war diplomacies. He maintains friendly ties with the highest authorities. The late revolutionary founder Imam Khomeini supported him. Velayati is a pediatric and has given a cultural image of himself.

The reformists want to be sure of Moussavi's final decision so that they can make up their minds.

However, the coming presidential elections may have three candidates: Velayati, Karroubi and one between Moin and Najafi."

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