Iran has approved the list of candidates who will stand against President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in next month’s presidential election. It includes two leading moderates.
The names were approved after being screened for their allegiance to the country’s strict Islamic government system and obedience to its religious leadership. The main challenge to Ahmedinejad is thought to come from former prime minister Mirhossein Mousavi. He has been endorsed by former president Mohammad Khatami and has some support within the conservative establishment. The ex-parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karoubi is also seen as a credible rival. Some analysts believe the moderates have been allowed to stand because they were too high-profile to reject. At the other end of the spectrum is the fourth candidate, Mohsen Rezaie. Like the reformists, he has targeted Ahmedinejad over his handling of the economy. The moderates hope his standing will split the conservative vote. Separately, Iran has successfully tested a missile it claims could reach Israel. The move is likely to undermine recent Western reconciliation efforts.