February 15, 2009

THE PLAN EMERGES:

Khatami’s candidacy rattles hardliners (Michael Theodoulou, 2/16/09, The National)

Supporters of the hardline incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, hoped that the potent challenge posed to their monopoly on power by Mr Khatami, the charismatic politician-philosopher who still retains some of his rock star-like popularity, would unite conservatives behind the president.

But a hardline deputy revealed last weekend that some conservatives are ready to ditch the populist Mr Ahmadinejad as their most obvious candidate – if they can persuade Mr Khatami to stand down.

Ali Motahhari, the MP, said the plan had been discussed with many “Principlists”, the flattering term hardliners use to proclaim themselves as exclusively loyal devotees of the principles of the Islamic Revolution – and all agreed.

“However, the pursuit of the plan will depend on Khatami’s withdrawal from the election,” he told Iran’s conservative Mehr news agency.

If so, the Principlists would put forward two candidates other than Mr Ahmadinejad. The scheme, however, would be dropped if Mr Khatami refused, Mr Motahhari added.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 15, 2009 5:19 PM
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