Tehran: Iran’s Guardian Council, a 12-member constitutional vetting body overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has announced seven candidates to run for the country’s upcoming presidential elections on June 18.
The members were announced by Iran’s interior ministry, which includes incumbent judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei, former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, deputy parliament speaker Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, former vice president Mohsen Mehralizadeh, central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati and lawmaker Alireza Zakani, reported Al Jazeera.
Meanwhile, 585 other hopeful candidates were disqualified, including supreme leader adviser and former parliament speaker Ali Larijani and current reformist First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.
Two-term former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was also disqualified that as expected by many. Ahmadinejad had said that he would boycott the elections if he was not allowed to run.
According to Al Jazeera, the results solidified conservative Raisi’s position as by far the top candidate in an election expected to have low voter turnout amid public disillusionment. Several candidates have already resigned in favour of Raisi and more are expected to follow suit before election day.
President Hassan Rouhani sent a letter to the supreme leader asking him to allow reformist and moderate candidates to be qualified in order to level the playing field, as per unconfirmed reports.
This came after the Guardian Council had declared that it would only consider candidates aged between 40 and 75, who have no criminal record – including political dissent – and are able to prove at least four years of senior executive leadership experience.
This proclamation, slammed by critics as illegal, automatically disqualified prominent reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh, who was jailed for seven years following the 2009 Green Movement and current ICT minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi.
Meanwhile, disqualified applicants are not allowed to appeal the council’s decision, reported Al Jazeera.
Sadegh Amoli Larijani, the disqualified Ali Larijani’s brother said that e found fault with the council’s decisions on both those who were qualified and those disqualified, alleging interference by security organisations in the decision-making process.
The seven approved candidates can start campaigning until June 16, two days before the elections. Candidates will have three televised debates whose dates have not been announced.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, polls will not be to operate at full capacity, so the interior ministry has said it could extend voting until 2 am on June 19.
However, health minister Saeed Namaki on Tuesday warned that if health protocols are broken during the election, Iran could soon face a fifth deadly wave of the virus, reported Al Jazeera.