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Iranian Candidate Asks For Vote Against 'Extremism'

Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani (file photo) 19 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Iranian presidential frontrunner Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani urged Iranians today to support him in a vote against what he called "extremism."

The moderate cleric will go into a runoff on 26 June against hard-line challenger Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad, with about a fifth of the vote each, pulled clear of their five rivals.

In a statement carried by Iran's Student News Agency (ISNA), Rafsanjani called on Iranians "to prevent extremism with your massive participation in the second round."

Iranian reformists today urged their supporters to rally behind Rafsanjani.

Similarly, hard-liners called for conservatives to close ranks behind Tehran Mayor Ahmadinejad.

Observers say the 26 June runoff election will amount to a referendum for or against hard-line Islam in Iran.


[For background and an archive of RFE/RL's coverage of Iran's ninth-ever presidential election, see our dedicated Iran Votes 2005 webpage.]