Tehran, Iran – Controversial ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has once again registered to become Iran’s next president, but the best candidates expected for the June elections have yet to register.
The ultra-conservative, who served as president from 2005 to 2013, tried to run again in 2017 but was disqualified by the Council of Guardians – a constitutional oversight body made up of six clerics and six jurists.
Observers say the divisive figure, who still has supporters among parts of the Iranian population, will likely be disqualified again.
Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei on Tuesday promised not to exert any influence in the June 18 elections which will see the relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani replaced after serving two terms.
Ahmadinejad entered the Interior Ministry on Wednesday, the second day of candidate registration, with a crowd of his supporters surrounding him – breaking COVID-19 protocols that allow candidates to be accompanied by only one person in the registration area.
Shouting and chanting slogans, some of his entourage clashed with Home Office staff as he entered. After checking in, Ahmadinejad climbed a fence outside to greet his staunch supporters.
In a press conference after his registration, the former president, whose controversial re-election sparked the 2009 Green Movement and protests, cast doubt on the veracity and popularity of the Iranian elections in the years following his nomination. presidency. He said the presidential elections have now become an “empty drum” and the authorities are not disclosing transparent figures.
“If I am disqualified, I will not support the elections and I will not vote,” he said, also claiming that the country’s serious problems cannot be resolved with the current style of governance.
More prominent curators expected
Depending on the seat of the election, more than 59 million Iranians will be eligible to vote. But, as with the legislative elections of February 2020, which saw the lowest turnout for at least 40 years, the presidential election is also expected to see a low turnout.
Registration ends Saturday afternoon and the main candidates for the next election have not yet officially registered.
Reports suggest that the head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, will register, which would make him the best candidate as he enjoys widespread support from his conservative political colleagues. Speaker of parliament Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf has reportedly told lawmakers he will not run and support Raisi. Both men ran unsuccessfully against Rouhani in 2017.
On Wednesday, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, registered for the presidency.
Rostam Ghasemi, who was oil minister under Ahmadinejad, and Mohammad Abbasi, sports and labor minister in two different Ahmadinejad presidencies, have also registered. Former Agriculture Minister Sadegh Khalilian – who was disqualified in 2017 and 2013 – also signed up.
Election headquarters said 57 people attempted to register on Tuesday, many of whom were conservatives and extremists.
Reformists are fighting
No prominent reformist has signed on so far and it is unclear whether the besieged Reformers might have a viable candidate.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, voted the most favorable by reformists, said on Wednesday he would not run.
“Now that my concerned friends are sure of my candidacy, I ask them to focus on their priority which is internal power and let us focus on ours, which is safeguarding national interests and ridding people of cruel US sanctions. He wrote in an online message. in reference to the efforts underway in Vienna to reinstate the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal with world powers.
The Hardliners have criticized Zarif over the past two weeks as a confidential audio tape of an internal interview with him was leaked end of April. In the tape, he candidly discusses the power dynamics in the Islamic Republic, noting how he has repeatedly had to “sacrifice” diplomacy for operations and policies carried out by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and General of Qassem Soleimani division, assassinated by the United States in January. 2020.
Reports indicate that former parliament speaker Ali Larijani, who negotiated the 25-year China-Iran comprehensive cooperation agreement, could become a candidate.
Prominent reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh said he would register on Friday, but a recent unilateral Guardian Council proclamation could prevent him from running since he was jailed after contesting Ahmadinejad’s re-election results .
Last week, the council abruptly set new conditions for the candidates, a move that some have criticized as illegal. He said applicants must be between the ages of 40 and 75, have no criminal history – including dissent – and present documents showing at least four years of senior leadership experience.