Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Iran

'Iran's anti-Western President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faces the first test of his popularity since coming to power 16 months ago with elections on Friday for local councils and a powerful clerical assembly.

The former Revolutionary Guardsman, who sparked fresh international outcry this week by hosting a conference questioning the Holocaust and by predicting Israel's imminent demise, hopes the vote will consolidate his grip on power.

But reformists, driven from elected posts in a series of elections since 2003 by conservatives allied to Ahmadinejad, are betting high voter turnout and disenchantment with rising prices for basic goods will spark a reversal in their fortunes.'

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