Report: Khatami might move over for Moussavi in presidential race

Mohammad Khatami Tehran  - Presidential candidate  might quit in favour of former prime minister Mir-Hossein Moussavi in Iran's presidential race on June 12, ILNA news agency reported Sunday.

Khatami, Iran's former president, would meet Moussavi later Sunday and it was expected that one of them might quit the race against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the report said.

The news agencies Fars and Mehr reported Sunday that Khatami had

already quit the race.

ILNA also reported that Khatami himself did not want to compete against his close aide Moussavi but the reformist factions wanted the moderate cleric to stay.

Khatami and former Moussavi were supposed to run as a team against Ahmadinejad but for still unknown reasons they announced their candidacy separately.

The presence of two candidates with similar platforms had been considered by observers as having the potential to split the moderate vote to the advantage of Ahmadinejad, whose ultra-conservative faction has named him as its sole candidate.

Both Khatami and Moussavi are fierce opponents of Ahmadinejad but while Khatami has focused his campaign on political reforms, Moussavi has concentrated mainly on economic issues which are currently the main problem of Iranians and president's the Achilles' heel.

Observers, however, say that Moussavi lacks the charisma of Khatami and could not mobilize the masses like the moderate cleric did back in 1997 and 2005.

Former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi will also run for president although he too is a close aide of Khatami and shares the same political standpoints.

Observers agree that the diversion among the moderate and reformist factions prior to the June 12 poll will please Ahmadinejad and his ultra-conservative backers and drastically increase his chances for being re-elected. dpa

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