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World News

Iran to start presidency vote registration in May

An Iranian flag flutters in front of the head office of the Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI) in Tehran in this November 9, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Politicians planning to contest Iran’s June presidential election will be able to register their candidacies from May 5, a senior Interior Ministry official said in comments published on Tuesday.

Conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and reformist ex-President Mohammad Khatami are expected to be the two main rivals in the June 12 election in the world’s fourth-largest oil producer.

Analysts say the outcome could influence Iran’s approach in its row with the West over its disputed nuclear program, even though Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final say on such issues as the country’s top authority.

Khatami, who was president in 1997-2005, said last month he would run in the election while a senior aide to Ahmadinejad has told Reuters he would stand for a second four-year term. Former parliament speaker and reformer Mehdi Karoubi is also running.

“Presidential candidates for the 10th round of presidential elections can do the necessary registration beginning on Ordibehesht 15 (May 5) for a period of five days,” Deputy Interior Minister Kamran Daneshju was quoted as saying by the Khorasan daily.

He was referring to the number of presidential elections in Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Presidential hopefuls also need the approval of the conservative-dominated Guardian Council, made up of six senior clerics and six Islamic jurists, which vets election candidates and laws to ensure they adhere to Islamic principles.

Khatami oversaw a thaw in relations with the West during his stint as president but ties have deteriorated again during Ahmadinejad, who often rails against Iran’s foes.

Reporting by Hashem Kalantari and Parisa Hafezi; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Dominic Evans

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