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Backgrounder: Four candidates in upcoming Iranian presidential election

2009-05-21 08:55 BJT

Special Report: Iran presidential election 09 |

TEHRAN, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Iran announced Wednesday that the Guardians Council has approved four candidates to run for the June12 presidential election.

Following are the profiles of the four candidates:

-- Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Ahmadinejad is considered a representative of the country's ultra-conservatives and a close disciple of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ahmadinejad was born in a blacksmith family in 1956 in the village of Aradan near Garmsar in the northern Iranian province of Semnan. He holds a PhD in civil engineering from the Iran University of Science and Technology.

Ahmadinejad joined the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps voluntarily after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and also reportedly served in covert operations during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

Before taking office as president in August 2005, Ahmadinejad was the governor general of Ardabil province in 1993-1997, and mayor of Tehran from June 2003 to August 2005.

During Ahmadinejad's presidency, Iran continues to speed up its nuclear program and has refused to end uranium enrichment despite UN Security Council resolutions calling for it to do so.

Ahmadinejad also maintains a hard line with the United States and Israel. In response to U.S. President Barack Obama's recent diplomatic overtures, Ahmadinejad said Iran wants "real changes" from Washington and supports dialogues based on mutual respect and justice.

Ahmadinejad has dramatically increased government spending and has supported subsidies for lower-income families. But as Iran is suffering from soaring inflation and high unemployment, his track record in the economic field has been a frequent target of criticism.