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  Iran's Presidential Candidates

The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 5, 2001; 2:28 p.m. EDT

A look at the 10 candidates vying in Friday's presidential election in Iran:

MOHAMMAD KHATAMI: Reformist president whose program of democratic reform has won him great popularity at home and abroad. He won 70 percent of the votes in the 1997 election, and is expected to win another four-year term. Born in Ardakan, central Iran, in 1943, he is a middle-ranking Shiite Muslim cleric who traces his descent from Islam's 7th century prophet, Muhammad. Holds degrees in philosophy and education. Backs better ties with Washington, but wants U.S. to avoid interfering in Iranian affairs.

ALI SHAMKHANI: Defense minister since 1997 and former minister of the elite Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. He is affiliated with hard-liners, though running as an independent. Liberals oppose his candidacy as a violation of the constitutional ban on military's involvement in politics. As army chief, he reports directly to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, to whom hard-liners look for guidance. Born in Ahvaz, southwestern Iran, in 1955, he studied agricultural engineering.

ALI FALLAHIAN: Mid-ranking cleric and former spy chief born in Najafabad, central Iran, in 1949. He was educated at Qom's Haqqani School of Theology, a breeding ground for Islamic militants. He was among Iranian leaders indicted by a German court in 1997 for gangland-style 1992 slaying of three Kurdish dissidents and their translator in Berlin. He refused parliament summons for questioning about 1998 killings of dissidents. Running as independent, but close to Khamenei; member of assembly that elects supreme leader.

AHMAD TAVAKOLI: Finished second in 1993 presidential race, losing to Hashemi Rafsanjani. Born in 1951 in Behshahr, hotbed of extremism in northern Iran. He holds a doctorate in economics from England's Nottingham University and pledges to improve economy.

ABDOLLAH JASBI: Head of the Islamic Azad University, he is close to hard-liners. Born in Tehran in 1944, Jasbi holds doctorate from England's Birmingham University. Won only a few thousand votes in 1993 against Rafsanjani. Often caricatured in newspapers as "Prince Jasbi" for heading wealthy, state-owned institution that accepts nearly every applicant and charges hefty fees for an education widely regarded as inferior to that at other Iranian universities. Since starting his election campaign, has eased strict Islamic dress codes for men and women at his universities.

HASSAN GHAFOURIFARD: Former energy minister, vice president in charge of physical education and legislator with degrees in seismology and nuclear physics. Born in 1943 in Tehran. Affiliated with the Islamic Coalition Society, an ultraconservative group in hard-line camp. Opposes resumption of ties with the United States.

MOSTAFA HASHEMITABA: Vice president for athletic affairs, former head of the Iran Exports Promotion Center. Born in 1956 in Tehran. Supports a conservative wing within largely pro-reform Executives of Construction Party. Has said in recent interviews he backs hard-liners' closure of dozens of newspapers and crackdown on political dissidents.

MOHAMMAD KASHANI: Born in Tehran in 1942, Kashani holds a doctorate in law and teaches at the Beheshti University in Tehran. Headed the Iranian legal team at the International Court of Justice in claims against the United States. Critic of Khatami's reform program, opposes any improvement of ties with Washington.

MANSOUR RAZAVI: Little-known academic and elected member of Tehran City Council. Born in 1952 in Isfahan, central Iran. Holds doctorate in civil engineering. Promises educational reforms that would allow more young Iranians to enter universities.

SHAHABODDIN SADR: Born in 1962 in Tehran, Sadr is known for his hard-line views. Trained as a physician, Sadr is a former lawmaker and deputy health minister who failed to get re-elected in February's legislative polls.

© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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