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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thanked government workers in a massive rally that was seen as a show of his power ahead of the June presidential election.

The official IRNA news agency reported that an estimated 70,000 people attended the rare gathering on Thursday, which was held in a football stadium.

Opponents of Ahmadinejad had accused him of planning the rally to promote his favorite candidate for the upcoming presidential election.

But he did not refer to the election at the rally, and his favorite potential candidate, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, did not appear there.

In his comments, Ahmadinejad thanked members of the staff who worked to help Iranians traveling during the Iranian new year, which started March 20 and lasted for more than two weeks.

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