The candidate registration process for the Iranian presidential elections, scheduled for May 19, opened with a bang. Contradicting the public position of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, former president and political hawk Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday added his name to the list of 197 candidates, including eight women, who had already enrolled.
The uproar was enormous. Just last week, Ahmadinejad said he had “no plans to introduce myself but to support [his former vice president] Hamid Baghaei as the best candidate.” Among astonished election workers Wednesday, he said he felt bound to the promise made to Khamenei — who considered his candidacy as “polarizing” to the nation — but stated that the Supreme Leader’s statement was not a ban.
”I reiterate that I am committed with my moral promise and I am here to enroll only to support my brother Baghaei,” he added. All candidacies, Ahmadinejad and all the other challengers of the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, must be approved by the Guardian Council. The council will announce the list of “approved” names on April 27, and their decision could be weighed by Khamenei’s advice.