Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will stand for president again

Powerful Iranian cleric &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2003/03/20/44670.html ' target=_blank>Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani officially confirmed today that he will stand again for president in June 17 elections, his spokesman said.

'He is a candidate and will announce the reasons for his candidacy in a public declaration' to be released later today, said &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2002/12/23/41239_.html ' target=_blank>Expediency Council spokesman Reza Soleimani.

'Finally his worries over the present situation have outweighed his doubts,' Soleimani said.

Rafsanjani, aged 70 years, is seen as a pragmatic conservative, more open to improved ties with the West and in favour of liberalising the state-dominated economy.

A number of informal opinion polls have placed him far ahead of what is expected to be a field of mostly hardline contenders.

Rafsanjani has held the Islamic republic's presidency from 1989 to 1997, and presently heads the Expediency Council - Iran's top political arbitration body, tells the Forbes.

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