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Iran: Ahmadinejad and Larijani barred from June's presidential election

Invalidation of Ali Larijani, a former speaker of parliament, is the biggest surprise as seven candidates are approved
Ahmadinejad, right, and Larijani, centre, listening to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, left, in 2012 (AFP)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ali Larijani and Eshaq Jahangiri, three heavyweights in Iranian politics, have seen their June presidential candidacies invalidated, two Iranian news agencies reported on Tuesday.

Fars and IRNA named seven candidates - including hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi - that it said the Council of Guardians, an unelected body responsible for overseeing the ballot and validating candidacies, had approved.

Four of the other candidates named are considered to be hardliners: First Vice-Speaker of Parliament Amirhossein Ghazizadeh-Hachemi; former secretary-general of the Supreme Council of National Security Saeed Jalili; General Mohsen Rezaei, former commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp; and parliamentarian Alireza Zakani.

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The two reformist candidates named were central bank governor Abdolnaser Hemmati, and former vice-president Mohsen Mehralizadeh.

The disqualification of former president Ahmadinejad, already banned from the presidential election in 2017, was expected.

However, the invalidation of Larijani, a former speaker of parliament and current adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and Jahangiri, currently a vice-president, came as a surprise.

On its website, the Council of Guardians said it had retained "seven candidates", but did not publish their names.

In total, nearly 600 people applied last month to take part in the election.

Appeals process

A string of military figures on the list of presidential hopefuls had been stirring unease over a possible militarisation of the country's politics.

This "shows that the Council of Guardians did not sacrifice the law for expediency, and that in its selection process it emphasised the background of individuals, regardless of their rank", wrote Fars.

According to the official electoral calendar, candidates disqualified by the Council of Guardians, who will have been personally notified of the council's decision, have the possibility of appealing until midnight on Tuesday, AFP reported.

According to the law, it is up to the Ministry of the Interior, responsible for organising the election, to publish the list of candidates validated by the Council of Guardians. 

It would have been sent on Monday evening to the ministry and its publication is expected on Wednesday or Thursday, AFP said.