Iran Presidential Elections 2017: Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad enters electoral race again

Cheryl Sanders
April 13, 2017

Ex-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad submitted his name today for registration as a candidate in Iran's presidential election in May, state media reported.

Ahmadinejad said the comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last September, warning that his candidacy could create division in the country and harm the nation, were "just advice".

On Tuesday, Iran's Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli announced registration of candidates for Iran's 12th presidential race in capital Tehran. Ahmadinejad on Wednesday unexpectedly filed to run in the country's May presidential election, contradicting a recommendation from the supreme leader to stay out of the race.

Mr Ahmadinejad's eight years in office saw a tightening of worldwide sanctions on the Islamic Republic to curb its nuclear program.

"Someone came to see me and considering his own interests and the interests of the country, I told him he should not participate in that matter [elections]", Khamenei was quoted by his official website a year ago, referring to Ahmadinejad.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad making a speech in Bursa, Turkey, Feb. 27, 2015.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's decision to register is the biggest surprise so far in the presidential election.

While conservatives are anxious that Mr Ahmadinejad or Mr Baghaei's presence might split their votes, allies of Mr Rouhani are also concerned about the attractiveness of populist candidates with nationalist anti-establishment slogans.

Ahmadinejad's candidacy also comes as Trump has threatened a reappraisal of Iran's nuclear deal with world powers and as fissures still linger inside Iran after his contested 2009 re-election, which brought massive unrest.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, had previously ordered him not to run.

"It was advice. He said that he won't say stand or don't stand".

Also, under his administrations, Iran's worldwide ties were brought to an unprecedented low point and the country's nuclear dossier escalated into a drawn-out diplomatic impasse, resolved peacefully in 2015 under the Rouhani administration.

A dissident activist Mehdi Khazali, who served several prison terms on security-related charges, said after registration that hostility toward the West would come to an end if he is elected.

The hopefuls will have 20 days for electoral campaigns, ahead of the election day slated for May 19. Registration remains open until Saturday. The nuclear deal was pivotal to that plan.

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.

Other reports by iNewsToday