By AFSHIN VALINEJAD, Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - President Mohammad Khatami, elected three years ago on a promise of moderating Iran's rigid social code, will seek re-election, the interior minister said Tuesday.
Khatami had said in November that was undecided on whether to run in the June 8 election, adding that he would first assess the political climate and his own preparedness.
But the interior minister, Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari, pointed to Khatami's plans to introduce four ministers to parliament for a vote of confidence in a Cabinet reshuffle as a sign that he will run again for president.
``My understanding is that President Khatami will definitely run in the presidential elections,'' Lari, a reformist close to Khatami, told a news conference Tuesday. ``If he had no intention to run, there was no reason for him to prepare introducing four nominees for ministerial portfolios.''
Khatami's political allies have said that the president has been exhausted by hard-line opponents' attempts to stymie his efforts to bring more political and social freedoms to Iran's tightly regulated society.
The president's program of social and political reforms suffered a new blow last month when his popular culture minister, Ataollah Mohajerani, resigned.
Khatami, who was elected May 23, 1997, with 70 percent of the vote, is locked in a power struggle with Islamic hard-liners who oppose change and control all unelected key institutions, including the judiciary, military and broadcast media.
They continue to cling to power despite widespread opposition by a predominantly young population yearning for change.
Khatami has said that despite the difficulties, reforms are unstoppable.