Iranian reformist presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi has rejected calls by
some reformists to pull out of Friday's election to avoid splitting the
country's moderate vote.
Mr. Karroubi told a news conference in Tehran
Tuesday he will remain in the race, despite his status as an outsider among the
Some reformists want him to make way for their other
candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who is seen as the main challenger to the
conservative incumbent, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Tens of thousands
of Iranians joined competing rallies for Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Ahmadinejad in
Tehran late Monday.
Mr. Mousavi's supporters say they formed a
19-kilometer long human chain running the entire length of the capital's main
north-south avenue (Vali Asr).
Mr. Ahmadinejad's supporters held
a mass rally in a central Tehran mosque. His aides say he left the venue without
making a speech because he could not make his way through the
Some members of the two camps faced
off on Tehran's streets, shouting slogans and waving flags. No violence was
An opinion poll published Monday by two U.S.-based research
institutes showed 34-percent of Iranian respondents backed Mr. Ahmadinejad,
while 14 percent picked Mr. Mousavi and 27 percent were undecided.
fourth candidate in the race is a conservative outsider, Mohsen
If no candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote, the top two
vote-winners will compete in a June 19th run-off election.
appears to have gained support in recent weeks among younger voters and city
dwellers who use the Internet to mobilize rallies. Mr. Ahmadinejad is popular
among rural voters and has the backing of the Basij religious paramilitary group
with millions of members.
Reformists blame Mr. Ahmadinejad for Iran's
high inflation and unemployment. The Iranian president says the economy has
improved under his leadership.