Former Iranian President Ahmadinejad Barred From Election
Iranian state TV says the body charged with vetting candidates has disqualified former hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad from running in next month's presidential election.
Although Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had previously urged him not to run, Ahmadinejad shocked the country by registering last week.
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.
Khamenei has said Ahmadinejad candidacy would create a "polarized situation" that would be "harmful for the county."
State television said that incumbent Hassan Rohani and hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi have both been approved to run in the election.
Raisi, 56, who is close to Khamenei, is considered by many to be the 68-year-old Rohani's main challenger.
Raisi is expected to draw support from Iran's hard-line factions, including the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Rohani negotiated the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal with world powers, but some disappointment that the accord has not spurred economic growth has boosted the opposition against him.
The Guardians Council, the agency that vets all candidates before they can appear on the ballot, said it had compiled a final list of candidates earlier on April 20 and that the Interior Ministry would announce their names by April 23.
Officials said a total of 1,636 people registered for the election, including 137 women. The council has not allowed women to run in the past.
Traditionally, about six candidates are finally approved to run.
The council routinely disqualifies those it regards as a threat to the clerical establishment. In 2013, it prevented ex-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from running.
The campaign officially opens later this month (April 28) and the vote is on May 19.
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.