Controversial ex-president to run again in Iran presidential race

Associated Press journalists who witnessed Ahmadinejad's registration on Tuesday said election officials were "stunned" when he submitted the paperwork.

He vowed to serve the Iranians, and try hard for the establishment of "justice and freedom" if he is reelected as the president. It is here where the Supreme Leader could use his influence to disapprove of Ahmadinejad's candidacy. During his term, the UN Security Council imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

Ahmadinejad, who filled the role of the country's chief executive for two consecutive mandates starting in 2005, signed up for the competition at the Election Office, which is based within the Interior Ministry's premises in the capital Tehran on yesterday.

The May 19 election is seen by many as a referendum on the global agreement over Iran's nuclear program that Rouhani helped negotiate.

Ahmadinejad said his decision to run was meant to help former Vice-President Hamid Baghaei, a close confidant.

The ensuing crackdown saw thousands detained and dozens of dissidents arrested, the memory of which Khamenei was likely referring to when he said an unnamed candidate - widely understood to be Ahmadinejad - should not run again because it would "polarize" the country.

The re-election of Ahmadinejad in 2009 sparked huge protests across the country as allegations spread of electoral fraud.

"He said he was not telling me either to come or not to come". Hard-liners in Iran are indeed hoping for a tough-talking candidate who can stand up to US President Donald Trump.

Ahmadinejad was also quoted as saying by ILNA news agency that "the Supreme Leader advised me not to run".

On April 26-27, the Interior Ministry will formally announce a final shortlist of candidates approved by the Guardian Council.

Reactions of worry were quick to spread, as Raisi is an influential cleric with a close relationship with Khamenei.

Mr Baghaei, 48, was held under arrest in 2015 for nearly seven months on charges that were not made public but many suspected were related to corruption. The candidate registration for the upcoming election will last for five days. While the deal has seen global financial and trade sanctions lifted on Tehran, numerous benefits have yet to trickle down to the average Iranian.

"The move is a shock to conservative unity in Iran", Benham Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an emailed statement. Under the nuclear deal, Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of worldwide sanctions.

  • Leroy Wright