Former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said today he decided to stand in presidential elections next month to prevent a crisis of confidence in the regime. Iranian news agencies earlier announced Rafsanjani's candidacy for the June 17 presidential elections. Rafsanjani, a 70-year-old moderate cleric, has held the presidency between 1989-1997. He is regarded as favouring improved ties with the west. Outgoing President Mohammad Khatami, a moderate reformist, is barred by law from seeking a consecutive third term. Rafsanjani in his statement presented himself as a moderating force opposed to "extremists" -- a likely reference to religious right-wingers. He warned that Iran was facing what he called "destructive tensions that prevent the development of the country." Candidates have until Saturday to register for the vote.