Ex-Iranian President Khatami Will Challenge Ahmadinejad
In previous terms, advocated change, international communication
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2009 10:43 AM CST
Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, center, reacts with his supporters during a gathering in Tehran yesterday.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Former president Mohammad Khatami will challenge his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Iran’s upcoming elections, the Washington Post reports. The bid would set up “a full-fledged confrontation between totalitarians and reformists,” says a former Khatami official. Khatami, who served from 1997-2005, tried and failed to expand personal freedom and reach out internationally.

Khatami's popularity among women and young Iranians made his first grassroots campaign successful, but it isn’t clear now what his chances for reelection would be. With his honorary doctorates and frequent speaking engagements, Khatami strikes a contrast with the down-to-earth, conservative Ahmadinejad, whose primary locus of support is rural and older. Iran goes to the polls June 12.