Tehran, April 21: Amidst controversies over the nuclear deal between Iran and United States the presidential elections are nearing. However, Iran’s former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been disqualified from competing for presidential elections.
Notably, Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been disqualified for next month's election by a government-controlled vetting body. Iran’s interior ministry said that the guardian council, the group of influential jurists and clerics that vets all candidates had approved six politicians to run, including the moderate incumbent, Hassan Rouhani but barred Ahmadinejad.
The list consists of Ebrahim Raisi, a close ally of the country’s supreme leader; the mayor of Tehran, Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf; Rouhani’s first deputy, Eshaq Jahangiri; and relatively low-profile politicians Mostafa Agha Mirsalim and Mostafa Hashemi-Taba. But the list excluded more than 1,600 other nominees who had applied to run for president, including all 137 female candidates and Ahmadinejad.
However, Ahmadinejad’s exclusion means the presidential race will probably be a tight three-man race between Rouhani, Raisi and Ghalibaf. Jahangiri has already announced that his candidacy is tactical and that he intends to eventually drop out in favour of Rouhani. He is believed to have entered the race to help Rouhani to defend his legacy by buying more airtime in presidential debates and media opportunities.
Iran’s conservative elite has not yet agreed upon a single candidate it can back against Rouhani. But while a lot can change before election season officially begins on April 28, many see Raisi as the man with the most potential to pose a serious challenge to Rouhani. Before Ahmadinejad’s announcement, Raisi was the frontrunner among five hardline candidates.
Raisi has targeted corruption in the country and said that he would not use his position as the head of a wealthy foundation, or its finances, to help his election campaign.
Experts also said that Raisi victory could increase already simmering tensions between the Islamic Republic and the West, particularly with the U.S. under President Donald Trump, who has voiced his opposition to the Iranian regime and the nuclear deal and cut off all diplomatic contacts with the country after Barack Obama’s thaw in relations with the country.
On the other side, Rights groups have criticized Rouhani for a lack of reform on political and social freedoms, a promise he made when he rode to power on the back of votes from young Iranians. But if Raisi is elected, the situation for more liberal-minded Iranians is not optimistic.