Iran Presidential Election: Ahmadinejad back to Business

Jerome Frank
April 13, 2017

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday shocked his nation by reportedly filing to run in its May presidential election, ignoring advice from the nation's supreme leader.

Stunning Iran and disregarding the words of its supreme leader, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered Wednesday to run in the country's May presidential election and upended a contest largely expected to be won by its moderate incumbent.

Flanked by reporters after filling out registration forms and making a victory sign, Ahmadinejad said: "The Leader advised me not to participate in the elections, and I accepted".

The former hardline president is one of 126 people who registered Interior Ministry on Wednesday for the upcoming election, according to the IRNA news agency.

All hopefuls will be vetted by the Guardian Council, a body that oversees elections and legislation, from April 16 to April 20.

Sunni Arab states in the Gulf remain highly suspicious of Iran, especially after it secured its landmark nuclear deal with world powers.

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The only prominent figure to step in the elections debut on the first day was Mostafa Mir-Salim, Former Culture Minister, who will represent Islamic Coalition Party. His main challenger is conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, a 56-year-old ally of Mr Khamenei, whose surprise announcement to run last week jolted a race previously seen as an easy contest for the president. Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.

The Supreme Leader said previous year, without naming him, that Ahmadinejad's candidacy is not in the interest of the Iranian people, therefore calling on him not to run.

Ahmadinejad had initially said in a press conference last week that he was formally backing a former deputy, Hamid Baghaei, and that he did not plan to run himself.

More than 280 people have filed as possible candidates since registration began Tuesday, including 13 women. The council is typically responsible for disqualifying the majority of registrants for making it to the final candidates list.

Mr Ahmadinejad's critics say his fiery anti-Western talk helped isolate Iran diplomatically.

"He won't be qualified by the Guardian Council for sure, given his background", political analyst Hassan Lasjerdi said, adding that running against the wishes of Khamenei is a constitutional violation of law.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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