Iran approves 6 candidates
Presidential election to include incumbent; Ahmadinejad barred
TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian panel in charge of vetting political candidates approved the country’s incumbent president and five challengers to run in next month’s presidential election but disqualified former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, state television reported Thursday.
Hundreds of others were also disqualified.
The decision by the Guardian Council, which is dominated by clerics, means that President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, will face off against a field that includes two prominent hardliners: Ebrahim Raisi, who is considered close to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf.
The other presidential candidates will be moderate Senior Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, conservative former Culture Minister Mostafa Mirsalim, and pro-reform former Vice President Mostafa Hashemitaba.
Ahmadinejad, who remains a deeply polarizing figure even among Iranian hard-liners, shocked the country by registering to run last week. Khamenei had urged him not to run.
Ahmadinejad was president from 2005 to 2013 and was best known abroad for his incendiary rhetoric toward Israel, his questioning of the scale of the Holocaust, and his efforts to ramp up Iran’s nuclear program.