Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, has ruled out standing in presidential elections slated for June 2009, Iran’s labour news agency ILNA reported on Sunday.
Velayati was deemed in political circles to be a possible candidate among the conservatives to join the race for the presidency. “Definitely, I have no intention to run for the upcoming elections,” Velayati was quoted as saying by the agency.
Velayati, an adviser on foreign policy to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a conservative figure who served as the country’s foreign minister from 1981 until 1997, first under Khamenei and subsequently under Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
The longest-serving foreign minister in the 30-year history of the Islamic republic did not register for the 2005 presidential race either, pulling out in favour of Rafsanjani, “the best candidate.” Rafsanjani lost the last presidential elections to the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
So far only the reformist leader of the National Confidence Party, Mehdi Karoubi, has officially confirmed his candidacy. Iran’s conservative parliament speaker Ali Larijani — a former top nuclear negotiator — confirmed almost a week ago that he will not stand in next year’s ballot.
Among conservatives, Ahmadinejad could face a new challenge from Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, whom he defeated in 2005.