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Iran’s Ahmadinejad Applies To Run For President Again

Former two-term President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, a fierce conservative who was in power during a harsh crackdown on dissenters before seemingly falling afoul of Iran's supreme leader, has registered to run in next month's presidential vote.

It is unclear whether the powerful vetting body that routinely bars hundreds and even thousands of potential candidates from elections will approve his bid.

And he suggested his April 12 appearance was merely an attempt to raise the profile of a controversial political ally who registered alongside him for the race, Hamid Baghaei.

But Ahmadinejad's registration flies in the face of a public appeal by the country's highest political and religious authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ahmadinejad left office in 2013 amid rumors of a falling-out with Khamenei and with the opposition still simmering over mass arrests and violence in a crackdown following protests over alleged irregularities in Ahmadinejad's reelection in 2009.

"If his candidacy is approved, then he hasn't been eliminated from Iran's political circle," Paris-based analyst Taghi Rahmani told RFE/RL's Radio Farda. "Ahmadinejad seems to believe he has nothing to lose. If he's disqualified, he believes that it would bring him honor in the future for standing up to [Khamenei]."

Khamenei was said to have indirectly cautioned Ahmadinejad last year against a new bid for the presidency, saying he had told "someone" who approached him for guidance to stay out of the election "both for his own good and also for the good of the country."

"I told him I do not find it advisable for him to participate," the 77-year-old Khamenei added in what was reported by Iranian media in September to be a reference to Ahmadinejad.

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.

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