Reformist Withdraws From Iran Election
Ex-president aims to unite reform vote behind political ally
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 16, 2009 10:25 AM CDT
Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, foreground left, leads noon prayers during a meeting with supporters in Tehran, Iran, on Feb. 14, 2009.    (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)
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(Newser) – Iran’s reformist ex-president will drop out of June’s presidential election to make more room for a fellow reformist, the New York Times reports. Mohammad Khatami "does not want to compete with Mir-Hossein Mousavi,” a political analyst said. Mousavi, a former PM, joined the race last week. “The chances of getting a reformist president elected would decrease if we have several candidates running.”

Khatami won the presidency in 1997 and served until 2005; he was expected to draw wide support. He had said he’d only run if Mousavi didn’t. “Some conservatives are supporting Mousavi,” he was quoted as saying. “Mousavi is popular and will be able to execute his plans.” Current leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to run, backed by conservatives. But recent stumbles show he may be losing support, the Times notes.