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Ex-president and Ahmadinejad friend register to run for Iranian presidency

A pair of powerful and divisive figures registered yesterday to run in Iran's presidential election, set for June 14.

Akbar Rafsanjani, a former president who still wields huge influence, and Esfandiar Mashaei, a colleague of current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, submitted their official paperwork just before yesterday's deadline.

A Rafsanjani win would likely open the way for the easing of tensions with the outside world and distance Iran from Ahmadinejad's bombastic style and the hardline policies of the Islamic Republic's conservative camp.

A Mashaei win would mark a continuation of Ahmadinejad-era policies. Mashaei is Ahmadinejad's close confidant, and his daughter is married to the president's son.

All key policies in Iran are made by the clerics and their inner circle, led by the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The decision of Rafsanjani and Mashaei to run greatly reduces the chance of a Khamenei loyalist winning the vote, and puts pressure on the conservative camp to reduce the number of hardliners in the race to avoid splitting the vote.

Thousands protest killings in Gabon

TWO thousand people protested in Gabon yesterday over a spate of ritual killings that has seen mutilated bodies washing up on beaches in the central African state this year.

Body parts of humans and animals are prized by some in the region and Gabon's Association for the Prevention of Ritual Crimes estimates 20 people have been killed this year and their lips, tongues, genitals and other organs removed.

Georgia to move Little Richard's home

Officials in Georgia have decided to move the boyhood home of Little Richard to spare it from a road project.

Born Richard Wayne Penniman, Little Richard grew up in Macon's Pleasant Hill community – a neighbourhood that was later divided by the construction of Interstate 75.

The 'Tutti Frutti' singer's boyhood home faced demolition to make room for a planned expansion of the road. The house will be moved to a community garden, where it will be used as a neighbourhood resource centre.

Mubarak in Cairo court for retrial

Egyptian prosecutors are presenting new evidence in the retrial of former president Hosni Mubarak. Mr Mubarak attended the hearing in Cairo alongside his two sons and former interior minister. All pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include allegations of involvement in the deaths of 900 protesters during Egypt's 2011 revolt.

Nun to be sentenced over break-in

A US judge has ruled that a nun and two other protesters must stay in jail until they are sentenced in September for breaking into the biggest US store of bomb-grade uranium.

Sister Megan Rice and Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed were convicted last week of sabotage and damaging federal property last year at the complex in Tennessee.

The sabotage charge carries a maximum term of 20 years. The property charge has a penalty of up to 10 years.

Egyptian police thwart al-Qaeda plan

Egyptian security forces thwarted a plan by an al-Qaeda-linked cell to carry out a suicide attack on a foreign embassy, capturing three militants yesterday.

The men, who are accused of having links to militants in the Middle East and Pakistan, were found in possession of 10kg of aluminium nitrate, which is used to make bombs. Police declined to say which embassy was the target.

Italians pick up 139 migrants at sea

Italian coastguards picked up 139 people in two inflatable boats off the southern coast of Sicily, the latest in a series of arrivals of clandestine immigrants.

Hundreds of migrants, most from Africa, have been rescued in small, flimsy vessels while crossing to Italy since the start of the year, with numbers up since early spring.

Irish Independent