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Iranian Election Could Mean End to Ahmadinejad's Influence

ABC/Donna Svennevik(NEW YORK) -- The prospects of an Iran without President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should please the West since he's not running for reelection.  However, the prospect of an even more fiery replacement is more than possible.

In six weeks, Iran will hold its first national election since June 2009, an event that led to massive pro-democracy protests when it was alleged that Ahmadinejad stole the election.  The Iranian government cracked down hard on the demonstrators, arresting thousands and executing an unknown number of political dissenters.

Since then, Ahmadinejad has lost favor with Iran's theocratic leaders, who seem determined to reject his personal pick, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, whose daughter happens to be married to the president's son.

Conservatives who support the ayatollah claim that Mashaei is unacceptable because he puts Iran ahead of Islam.

Dozens of people are expected to throw their hat into the ring, but ultimately, anyone considered a reformist or associated with the 2009 Green Movement is unlikely to be endorsed by Iran's supreme leader.

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