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Registered To Run Again

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (born Mahmoud Sabbaghian), the ultraconservative Iranian politician, is back! The divisive figure, who served as the President of Iran from 2005 to 2013, has joined this year’s Presidential Race. Ahmadinejad had made an attempt to run again in 2017. However, he was disqualified by the Guardian Council, a Constitutional Vetting Body comprised of six clerics and six legal experts. According to Political Experts, the former President, who still has quite a huge number of followers in the West Asian Nation, will likely be disqualified again.

It may be noted that Supreme Religious Leader of Iran (Grand Ayatollah) Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei promised on May 11 to exert zero influence in the June 18 Presidential Elections that would see relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani replaced after completing two terms. It seems that Iran wants to elect another moderate President this time. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad, with his supporters surrounding him, visited the Interior Ministry on May 12 to file his nomination. After filing the nomination, he was seen waving to his supporters, who were screaming and chanting slogans outside the ministry building.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The former President met the press later to share his views on contemporary Iranian politics. Ahmadinejad, whose controversial re-election had sparked the Green Movement and protests in 2009, expressed doubt over the veracity and popularity of Presidential Polls in the years following his Presidency, stating that Presidential Elections became an “empty drum”, as the concerned authorities refused to disclose transparent figures. “If I am disqualified, I won’t support the elections and I won’t vote,” he stressed. He also said that the current governance style would never fix the country’s deep woes.

Meanwhile, the Election Headquarters have confirmed that more than 59 million Iranians would cast their votes. In a statement, the Headquarters said that the Presidential Election might see a low turnout. The 2020 Parliamentary Elections recorded the lowest turnout in at least four decades. According to the statement, Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi, who is also a Presidential candidate this time, enjoys widespread backing from fellow conservative politicians. Majlis (Iranian Parliament) Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf has urged the lawmakers to support Raisi, as he would not contest the Polls. Both Raisi and Ghalibaf had run unsuccessfully against outgoing President Rouhani in 2017. The third candidate is Deputy Speaker of the Majlis Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi. Other three candidates are Rostam Ghasemi, who served as Petroleum Minister under Ahmadinejad, Mohammad Abbasi, Sports and Labour Minister in two different Ahmadinejad Presidencies, and Sadegh Khalilian, Ahmadinejad’s Agriculture Minister who was disqualified both in 2017 and in 2013.

Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei

According to the Election Headquarters, a total of 57 people tried to file nominations on May 12 and many of them were conservatives and hardliners. So far, no prominent reformist has filed nomination. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, voted as most favourable by the reformists, announced on May 12 that he would not run. “Now that concerned friends are sure about 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 stated, in reference to ongoing efforts in Vienna to restore Iran’s 2015 Nuclear Deal with world powers.

According to sources close to the Election Headquarters, former Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, who had brokered the 25-year China-Iran Comprehensive Co-operation Accord, might also contest the 2021 Presidential Polls. The Guardian Council recently set new conditions for candidates, saying that they must be aged between 40 to 75, with no criminal background. The candidates would also have to exhibit documents, showing at least four years of senior executive leadership experience.

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