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Former Guards commander tipped to run for president: paper

TEHRAN, Dec 14 (AFP) - The former commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards corps is expected to announce his candidacy for next May's presidential elections, press reports said here Thursday.

Mohsen Rezaie, now serving as the number two member of a powerful conservative-dominated oversight body, will present himself "soon" as a candidate, the conservative Tehran Times said, citing an unnamed source.

The source told the paper that Rezaie would run on an independent ticket in May amid widespread speculation over whether popular current President Mohammad Khatami will run for a second four-year term.

Rezaie is number two on the Expediency Council, which arbitrates disputes between parliament and another conservative-led oversight body, the Guardians Council.

The latter has blocked key pieces of legislation put forward by the reform-majority parliament since it took office in May.

Khatami aides have suggested that his frustration over the political wrangling with his conservative rivals could lead him to decline a bid for a second term, the most allowed under Iran's constitution.

Rezaie is an outspoken defender of Iran's clerical regime and was commander-in-chief of the Guards, considered one of the pillars of the Islamic republic.

The only hopeful so far to publicly announce a run for election in May is Farah Khosravi, a conservative who is set to become the first female presidential candidate in Iran's history.


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