Iran’s reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami has withdrawn from the June presidential election,a close aide of the charismatic cleric said on Monday.
“He has taken a decision to withdraw. We will officially announce it tonight or tomorrow in a statement,” the aide said,asking not to be named.
The decision is seen as a move to secure support from the electorate for Mir Hossein Mousavi,another reformist candidate who is running for the presidency.
Mehr news agency yesterday reported that Khatami had during a recent meeting with his campaign officials indicated his plan to withdraw from the vote,citing attempts to dilute support for reformists.
“Opponents want to divide my supporters and supporters of Mousavi,” Khatami was quoted as saying.
“It is not in our interest. Also some conservatives are supporting Mousavi. He (Mousavi) thinks that we have to change the situation. Mousavi is popular and will be able to execute his plans and I prefer he stays in the race.”
Former Iranian parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi is also planning to run in the June 12 election while incumbent hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is yet to officially announce his candidacy.
Khatami,65,was president of Iran between 1997 and 2005.