Nov 26, 2:34 PM EST

Former Iranian president will run in February election

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's former influential president says he will run in elections for a clerical body that is in charge of choosing the country's supreme leader.

The pro-reform Shargh daily on Thursday quoted Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as saying, "God willing , I will come," to run in elections for the Assembly of Experts.

The 81-year-old Rafsanjani has close ties with moderate President Hassan Rouhani. His nomination will be a challenge to hardliners.

The assembly's election is scheduled to take place alongside parliamentary elections in February.

Under the law, the 86-member body would be responsible for choosing a successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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