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A rival of Iran's president is reelected mayor of the capital

May 10, 2007|From a Times Staff Writer

Tehran's City Council reelected a political rival of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as mayor of the Iranian capital Wednesday, Iranian news agencies reported.

Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf, 45, a conservative who has positioned himself as more liberal than the hard-liners surrounding Ahmadinejad, was reelected by a 12-3 vote of the City Council, the Mehr news agency reported. He defeated Rasoul Khadem, a former wrestling champion and member of the City Council. Two avowed Ahmadinejad allies lost in an earlier round of voting for the position.

Qalibaf's victory marked the latest electoral defeat for Ahmadinejad, whose loyalists were roundly defeated in local elections in December. Ahmadinejad, who served as mayor of Tehran before he was elected to the presidency in 2005, used his previous post to build popular support by sprucing up parks and addressing the urban woes of the metropolitan area of 12 million.

In his public remarks, former Revolutionary Guard and police commander Qalibaf has expressed a more conciliatory attitude toward the U.S. and the West than Ahmadinejad and other hard-liners.

Qalibaf, born in the northeastern shrine city of Mashhad, pledged to address Tehran's festering problems, which include traffic jams and air pollution.

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