The Scotsman

Ahmadineja­d barred as six candidates approved to run for Iran’s presidency

- Margaret Neighbour

Iran's Guardian Council has approved the country's hardline parliament speaker among six candidates to run in the presidenti­al election later this month, which comes following a helicopter crash that killed President Ebrahim Raisi and seven other people.

The council again barred former president Mahmoud Ahmadineja­d, a firebrand populist known for the crackdown that followed his disputed 2009 re-election, from running.

The council's decision represents the starting gun for a shortened, twoweek campaign to replace Mr Raisi, a hard-line protege of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei once floated as a possible successor for the 85-year-old cleric.

The election takes place on June 28.

The selection of candidates approved by the Guardian Council, a panel of clerics and jurists ultimately overseen by Mr Khamenei, suggests Iran's Shiite theocracy hopes to ease the election through after recent votes saw record-low turnout and as tensions remain high over the country's rapidly advancing nuclear programme, as well as the Israel-hamas war.

The Guardian Council also continued its streak of not accepting a woman or anyone calling for radical change to the country's governance.

The campaign will likely include live, televised debates by the candidates on Iran's state-run broadcaste­r. They also advertise on billboards and offer stump speeches to back their bids.

So far, none of them has offered any specifics, though all have promised a better economic situation for the country as it suffers from sanctions by the US and other Western nations over its nuclear programme, which now enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels.

Such matters of state remain thefinalde­cisionofmr­khamenei, but presidents in the past have leaned either towards engagement or confrontat­ion with the West over it.

The most prominent candidate remains speaker Mohammed Bagher Qalibaf, 62, a former Tehran mayor with close ties to the country's paramilita­ry Revolution­ary Guard.

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