Surprise: Iran’s Ahmadinejad to Run for President Despite Khamenei Warning

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shows his inked finger after registering his candidacy.

Source: The Guardian, April 12

…Reporters with the Associated Press news agency described watching as stunned election officials processed the hardliner’s paperwork on Wednesday. The surprise decision will likely upend an election many believed would be won by the incumbent, Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers.

It also makes Ahmadinejad the most high-profile Iranian politician to defy the wishes of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all state matters. Last year, Khamenei took the unusual decision to reveal he had told Ahmadinejad he did not recommend he enter the contest.

“Someone came to see me and considering his own interests and the interests of the country, I told him he should not participate in that matter [elections],” Khamenei was quoted by his official website last year, referring to Ahmadinejad. “I didn’t tell him not to participate, I told him I won’t recommend him participating.”

But in a news conference shortly after submitting his registration, Ahmadinejad described the comments by the supreme leader as “just advice”. There was no immediate reaction from Khamenei’s office….

Despite Khamenei’s advice, Ahmadinejad had been building a campaign in the months leading to the official registration – visiting provinces, becoming more active online and speaking at more occasions. He recently joined Twitter.

More than 120 prospective candidates, including six women and seven clerics, submitted their names on the first day of registration on Tuesday. Registration remains open until Saturday.

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