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Hardline Tehran mayor as Iran president

TEHRAN, June 24 (UPI) -- Tehran's hardline mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated moderate cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani becoming Iran's president with the backing of powerful clerics.

Ahmadinejad, 49, is seen as a pious working class hero. Son of a poor blacksmith, he was a member of a militant student faction during the revolution and later volunteered to fight on the front lines against Iraq.

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He was an unknown figure until elected Tehran mayor in 2003 by the conservative-led municipal council.

Fiercely attached to Islam and to the teachings of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Ahmadinejad maintains close ties with Iran's conservative factions and key groups as the elite Revolutionary Guards.

Ahmadinejad lives in a modest house and drives his own car. He strongly believes that unemployment, inflation and social discrimination should take precedence in government's concerns.

The modest president-elect who holds a bachelor degree in engineering, does not favor resuming dialogue with the West and is opposed to establishing relations with the United States under existing conditions.

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