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Rafsanjani RegistersFor High-Stakes Iranian Election

The final day of registration for candidates in Iran's June 14 presidential election brings out familiar faces, including former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, writes Mohammad Shabani.
Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (C) waves as he registers his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election at the interior ministry in Tehran on May 11, 2013. Rafsanjani, who has been isolated since the 2009 presidential election which saw massive street protests against the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, registered his candidacy to stand for office again. AFP PHOTO/BEHROUZ MEHRI        (Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Saturday, the last day of registration for presidential hopefuls in Iran, did not lack for twists and surprises. The two leading members of the 2+1 coalition, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf and former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, finally signed up, as did chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. At the very last minute, ex-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and former chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei also showed up to register as candidates.

The situation is that there are now figures from across the political spectrum in the fray. The 2+1 coalition, which also features former parliament Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel, is widely seen as enjoying the backing of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There is a separate so-called ‘principlist’ coalition led by former Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. Moreover, several members of the camp of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, chief among them his right-hand man Mashaei, have registered. Lastly, in addition to the centrists/reformists, led by Rafsanjani, there are some independent figures.

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