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Iran begins registering presidential hopefuls.

TEHRAN: Iran began registering candidates yesterday for a June 14 presidential vote, the first in the Islamic republic since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election sparked months of violent street protests in 2009.

The Interior Ministry opened the five-day registration process at 8 a.m. (0330 GMT), according to media reports, with a string of conservative hopefuls in the running but key reformists yet to come forward.

Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar advised hopefuls against waiting until the last minute to register, while warning against early campaigning, said the state broadcaster's website.

The polls will be followed closely by the international community four years after the regime suppressed a wave of demonstrations that erupted when Ahmadinejad secured a second term. Under the constitution, the outgoing president cannot stand for a third consecutive term.

His successor is expected to face an array of challenges, including Iran's worsening economy targeted by international sanctions over the country's contested nuclear program.

Yesterday, former nuclear negotiator and moderate figure Hassan Rowhani joined the race with a promise to "save the economy and (engage) in constructive interaction with the world," ISNA news agency said.

Many conservative hopefuls have expressed readiness to stand for election. Among them are heavyweights Ali Akbar Velayati and Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a former national police chief who is now mayor of Tehran.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:May 8, 2013
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