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Iran reconsidering list of disqualified presidential candidates

Iran's powerful Guardian Council said it would review the decision to bar certain candidates from running in this month's presidential election.
Ebrahim Raisi campaign poster in Tehran

Iran’s election authority announced Friday that it will review its disqualification of candidates from this month’s presidential election after the selection process received criticism from Iran’s Supreme Leader. 

Iranians will head to the polls June 18 to vote on outgoing President Hassan Rouhani’s successor. The Guardian Council, a 12-member body that vets potential candidates, announced last month that it had selected seven of roughly 600 candidates to appear on the ballot. Of that group, five are conservatives and two are reformists. 

“In the vetting process some candidates were wronged,” the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei tweeted, without specifying which candidates. “They were accused of untrue things that were unfortunately spread throughout the internet too."

“Protecting people’s honor is one of the most important issues. I call on the responsible bodies to restore their honor,” Khamenei added. 

In a statement Friday, council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodai said the supreme leader’s orders were “final,” adding, “The Guardian Council will soon announce its opinion, acknowledging that it is not immune to error.”

The hundreds excluded from running included former parliament speaker Ali Larijani and current Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who served as Iran’s president from 2005 to 2013, was also barred from running. 

Conservative judiciary head Ebrahim Raisi, 60, is considered the heavy favorite to succeed Rouhani. Raisi, who is under US sanctions for human rights violations, is a close confidant of the 82-year-old Khamenei and has been floated as a possible successor. 

The approved list of presidential candidates also includes a former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohsen Rezaei, ex-nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, and the moderate former central bank governor Abdolnaser Hemmati.

The upcoming election comes as representatives from Iran and six world powers meet in Vienna to hash out a US return to the 2015 nuclear deal, which curbed Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions relief. Raisi is a vocal critic of the nuclear deal and his expected election could complicate prospects for a revived agreement.

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