A final list of candidates approved on Thursday (April 20) said former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was barred from running for elections next month.The hardline president, who oversaw the country amid international sanctions on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, said at the start that he would not back down but was shocked when he announced his registration last week.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has advised him not to run for the unrest and deaths caused by his re-election in 2009, but Ahmadinejad has decided to go ahead with what he considered the highest authority in the country.
However, Iran’s Guardian Council – a group of influential clerics and clerics tasked with examining candidates – cuts off Ahmadinejad’s short-term aspirations with his ruling on the approved candidates.
The move comes at a risk to the council, where Khamenei appoints six of its 12 members, and thus can be seen as a seal on his will. In addition, Ahmadinejad still enjoys political support within Iran, where other hardliners agree with his hard line, especially following the election of US President Donald Trump.
Iran’s current president Hassan Rowhani, who is seeking re-election, has been criticized by the council for being too soft on the United States and the West.Rohani negotiated a landmark nuclear deal signed with Western powers in 2015 and exchanged lifting sanctions to curb Iran’s nuclear program, one of his biggest achievements.
Among the list of approved candidates is Ibrahim Raisi, a close ally of Khamenei; Mohammad Baqer Ghalebaf, Tehran mayor; and Ishak Jahangiri, spiritual vice president. And relatively high-ranking candidates Mustafa Agha-Mersalim and Mustapha Hashemi Taba.
Rohani and Ricei are expected to conclude mainly on economic issues, with three million of the country’s 87 million people.Regardless of how the elections are held, Iranian officials will seek to reduce instability following violent protests in 2009.
According to state media, television discussions were suspended to prevent candidates from setting fire to supporters, and the presence of heavy police was already noticeable on the streets.”The bitter incidents will not be repeated,” Tehran’s public prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dultapadi told Reuters in a statement.