Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

Ex-President Ahmadinejad stuns Iran with election bid

Ex-President Ahmadinejad stuns Iran with election bid Ex-President Ahmadinejad stuns Iran with election bid
Melinda Barton | 19 April, 2017, 07:19

Iran's hardline ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad submitted his name on Wednesday for registration as a candidate for May's presidential election, defying the wishes of the country's religious leadership.

September 2016: Amid suggestions Ahmadinejad may run again for the presidency, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recommends an unnamed candidate not seek office as it would bring about a "polarized situation" that would be "harmful for the county".

In September, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested that Ahmadinejad should not make a return to politics, four years after his second term as president finished.

"I didn't tell him don't run, I said it's not in your own or the country's best interests to run", Khamenei said at that time, according to Fars news agency.

"I repeat that I am committed to my moral promise (of not running) and my presence and registration is only to support Mr Baghaie", he said.

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. So his move to register in May's election came as a big surprise. More than 1,000 people registered in 2005, under reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

Though Ahmadinejad still might not be approved for the ballot by Iran's clerically overseen government, merely the mention of the Holocaust-questioning populist might energize hard-liners who want a Persian answer to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Registration for the May 19 election started on Monday and will last five days, after which entrants will be screened for their political and Islamic qualifications by a vetting body, the Guardian Council.

Tehran-based analyst Soroush Farhadian described Ahmadinejad's prospective candidacy as "an organized mutiny against Iran's ruling system". While the deal eased worldwide sanctions in return for curbs on the country's nuclear programme, the trickle-down effects are yet to be felt by many of Iran's 80 million strong population. More than 500 people have filed as possible candidates since registration began Tuesday and ends Saturday.

Ahmadinejad's uncompromising nuclear policy led to sanctions, which plunged the oil-rich country into an economic crisis.

Ahmadinejad's decision could upend an election many believed would be won by moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran's clergy and ultra conservatives are also hoping for a strong candidate to rival Rowhani, in the form of 57-year-old conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi.