Rafsanjani leads in run on important clerical post

Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani appeared to be in the lead on Sunday for a post on a powerful clerical body in the first public approval test for hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad since he took office a year ago, state-run television reported. According to partial results that included Tehran province, Rafsanjani had more than 1.5 million votes for a seat on the Assembly of Experts, state TV said. The former president is considered an opponent of Ahmadinejad, who defeated him in last year's presidential race. Rafsanjani's main rival, Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, who is widely seen as Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor, had about 860,000 votes for the Assembly, state TV said, reporting partial results. Early, unofficial results in local council elections also have shown that Ahmadinejad's conservative opponents leading. Tehran newspapers and semiofficial news agencies have reported unofficial results showing that no single party would be able to claim outright victory in Friday's local council elections.