An Iranian politician and religious leader who played a key role in the Islamic revolution of 1979.
When Khomeini was exiled in 1963, he worked with the underground revolutionaries and was imprisoned several times during the 1960s and '70s for his political activities. He helped to organise the mass demonstrations that led to the fall of the Shah in 1979.
After the ouster of the Shah, Rafsanjani helped found the Islamic Republican Party and built his political power base as speaker of parliament from 1980 to 1989. He was also acting commander-in-chief of the armed forces during 1988- 89.
Rafsanjani apparently became convinced of the futility of the war with Iraq, and believed to have persuaded Ayatollah Khomeini to accept U.N. Peace terms.
Rafsanjani was elected President of Iran, in 1989, receiving some 95 per cent of the vote. A conservative, he sought to revive Iran's flagging economy on free-market principles and moved to improve relations with the West, re-establish Iran as a regional power, and gradually reopen the country to foreign investment. He kept his country neutral during the Gulf war of 1991.
Rafsanjani was appointed chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council, which is responsible for resolving disputes between the parliament and Guardian Council concerning legislation.
He opposed harsh Islamic penal codes and promoted better job prospects for women in Iran.
Rafsanjani was re-elected in 1993 with two thirds of the vote but was barred from seeking a third term in the 1997 elections. He was the frontrunner in Iran's - a country where half of the 67 million population is under 25 and the voting age is 15 - June 2005 elections but he lost.
Hashemi Rafsanjani was born Akbar Hashemi Bahramani, a clergyman and supporter of Ayatollah Khomeini - studied Islamic jurisprudence under Ruhollah Khomeini.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan