Iran's Ahmadinejad says won't endorse other candidates

Cheryl Sanders
April 25, 2017

Khamenei is Iran's top decision-maker. Among them are Rouhani's vice president, Eshaq Jahangiri, and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

The decision on Saturday came after strong criticism from presidential candidates and Iranian people of an earlier decision by the committee not to broadcast the debates live, Xinhua news agency reported.

Televised debates are a relatively new feature of Iranian presidential elections and are believed to have influenced the results of votes in 2009 and 2013.

Khamenei had advised Ahmadinejad not to run, and his attempt to become a candidate was widely seen as a public snub to the Supreme Leader, said the report.

Ahmadinejad's application to be a candidate is Iran's May presidential election has been rejected by the Guardian Council, the body that vets applicants, according to the Interior Ministry.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and hardline rival Ebrahim Raisi were both approved to run in May's presidential election by a government vetting body, while former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was disqualified, state media reported on Thursday.

Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel rhetoric and nuclear ambitions saw Iran increasingly isolated from the outside world.

Ahmadinejad's barring from the elections sparked speculation in Iran because the reason for his rejection was not revealed. He remains popular among the poor sections of the society, who liked his populist policies such as distributing monthly cash handouts.

But the council's spokesman today said his disqualification was not related to the leader's advice.

Switching to French at one point during the press conference, the France-educated Mirsalim said he wanted to transform Iran into a "safe global hub" for "regional and worldwide dialogue and constructive engagement". The landmark 2015 nuclear agreement, in which Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment, had failed.

All six candidates are set to take part in the first debate on Friday. r Rouhani is the front-runner.

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