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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Runs for Re-Election as President of Iran


Before he was elected President of Iran in 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the Mayor of Tehran but he was largely unknown in the global arena. Just four years later, he is well known all over the world. This is a profile of the incumbent in the upcoming Iranian presidential elections.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a relative unknown when he was elected President of Iran four years ago.

One of his first decisions was naming a group of unknown people to his cabinet. Some of them came from the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

He also closed the government department responsible for the country's budget. The move was unprecedented and gave him tighter control of the nation's finances.

A number of government ministers left their posts in protest or were forced out.

But it was Mr. Ahmadinejad's fiery and controversial rhetoric that gained him attention on the world stage.

He has insisted Iran has a right to develop nuclear technology.

Although the United States and its allies worry that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, Mr. Ahmadinejad insists the country's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. He has not cooperated with the International Atomic Energy Agency and has turned down offers for negotiation.

In his most inflammatory remarks, he has denied the Nazi Holocaust.

And he has said Israel should be wiped off the map.

"The Zionist regime is a fake," he said. "They are occupiers. By raising the Holocaust question, I wanted to disclose a historical cheat. This regime [Israel] is over. Many of the world's nations and most of the governments do not want there to be a state of Israel."

Mr. Ahmadinejad's actions and words have drawn sharp criticism, which he dismisses.

But he has lost much of the support that got him elected last time.

In that campaign, unlike his rivals, he kept his promises to a minimum - using simple but serious slogans to gain popularity. He garnered many votes by going into Iran's rural areas.

One of his most well known promises was that he would bring profits from oil sales to the dinner tables of Iran's people.

He did not win the Presidency outright. In a run-off with former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mr. Ahmadinejad won by seven million votes.

This time, Mr. Rafsanjani is supporting Mr. Ahmadinejad's reformist rival, former prime minister Mir Hossein Moussavi. The president has been criticized for his handling of Iran's economy, which is suffering from high inflation.

And the political conservatives who got Mr. Ahmadinejad elected four years ago have not yet endorsed him this time.

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