Iranian reformers approved to run against Ahmadinejad; Burma bans foreign observers from trial; Chinese yuan grows as foreign exchange currency; bombings in Baghdad; and more
Top of the Agenda: Iran Approves Candidates
Iran's Guardian Council approved four final candidates, including current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for the country's June 12 presidential election. The announcement of the four contenders, from hundreds who had applied to run, officially kicks off campaigning in the election. Al-Jazeera reports the other three candidates cleared to contest the election are: Mirhoussein Mousavi, a former prime minister; Mahdi Karoubi, a former parliament speaker; and Mohsen Rezaie, the former head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard military corps.
RFE/RL reports Iran's reformist camp is represented most strongly by Mousavi and Karoubi, each of whom is considered a serious challenger to Ahmadinejad. Rezaie, who is wanted by Argentina for his alleged role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center, is generally considered to have little chance at winning, the article says. In a separate piece, RFE/RL says voter apathy could work in Ahmadinejad's favor and propel him to reelection. AFP notes that Ahmadinejad, former President Mohammad Khatami, and current parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani have all made a public push to encourage Iranians to vote.
The beginning of campaigning coincides with Iran's test launch, yesterday, of a mid-range missile. CFR's Thomas Lippman says in a new interview that the timing of the launch was not coincidental-Ahmadinejad may well be trying to use it to rally support ahead of the vote.
PACIFIC RIM: Suu Kyi Trial
The BBC reports Burma's government is barring foreign observers from the trial of democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi, a day after allowing them entry.
CHINA: A Chinese official estimated that the Chinese yuan could make up more than 3 percent (Xinhua) of global foreign exchange reserves by 2020. Currently, the yuan is not convertible for financial purposes, meaning that it is not used as a foreign currency reserve.
In a recent blog post, CFR's Brad Setser looks at different opinions on what China's future role in the global financial system should be.