Days after former Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered as a candidate for next month’s presidential election, Iran’s Guardian Council has barred him from running for the post. President Hassan Rouhani and leading Ebrahim Raisi have both been approved by the Council.
Though more than 130 women registered, none has ever been allowed to stand.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had previously urged Najaf, who ruled Iran from 2005 to 2013, not to run. Najad’s close ally Hamid Baghaie has also been banned from contesting the presidential election.
Khamenei appoints half of the members of the Guardian Council, and by disqualifying Ahmadinejad, the body runs the risk of being seen as a rubber stamp for the supreme leader, who is the highest authority in the country, Middle East Monitor reported.
More than 1,600 candidates registered to run in the May 19 election, but the Guardian Council only ever selects around half a dozen and the final list of candidates for the 19 May poll will be announced on 27 April.
It is widely expected that the current moderate President Hassan Rouhani would win May’s election. Rouhani best known outside the country for his negotiation of a nuclear deal with world powers.
Nejad left office in August 2013 after two turbulent four-year terms, leaving the country divided domestically, isolated internationally and struggling economically. In 2009, Ahmadinejad’s re-election was followed by one the largest protests to hit the country since the Islamic Revolution three decades before.
Ahmadinejad's populist approach and humble roots mean that he remains a popular figure among poorer sections of society, Al Jazeera reports.
Among the other candidates selected were Ebrahim Raisi and Mostafa Mirsalim, Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, veteran politician Mostafa Hashemitaba and Rouhani's ally and vice-president Eshaq Jahangiri.