Iran approves six candidates out of 80 for June election

Iran on Sunday announced the six candidates, mostly conservatives, approved for the June 28 election to replace president Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a helicopter crash.

The candidates announced by the interior ministry were selected from 80 registered hopefuls by the Guardian Council, which oversees elections in the Islamic republic.

Among those approved are the conservative speaker of parliament Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and the ultraconservative former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, who is known for his inflexible negotiating stance.

Just one reformist candidate, Massoud Pezeshkian, who is a lawmaker representing Tabriz in Iran’s parliament, has been approved.

Pezeshkian, 69, has been outspoken against the government’s lack of transparency during nationwide protests which were triggered by the September 2022 death in police custody of Mahsa Amini.

The conservative former interior minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi has also been authorised to run.

Others on the list include conservative Tehran mayor Alireza Zakani and incumbent vice president Amirhossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi, the ultraconservative head of the Martyrs’ Foundation.

In a Sunday post on social media site X, Zakani said he would “compete until the end to continue the path of” Raisi.

According to Iran’s electoral law, campaigning should officially start from Sunday until 24 hours before the elections.

Ahmadinejad disqualified –

Former hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was previously disqualified from entering the presidential races in 2017 and 2021, was again excluded from the list.

Others including moderate ex-parliament speaker Ali Larijani and Vahid Haghanian, a former commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, were also barred from standing.

Four women had also registered their candidacy but were disqualified, as has been the case for all presidential elections since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran’s presidential elections were originally slated for 2025 but were brought forward following Raisi’s unexpected death on May 19.

Raisi and seven members of his entourage, including foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, were killed when their aircraft came down on a fog-shrouded mountainside in northern Iran.

In Iran, ultimate authority is wielded by the supreme leader and not the president. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 85, has held the former post for 35 years.

Following Raisi’s death, Khamenei assigned vice president Mohammad Mokhber, 68, as caretaker president in accordance with the constitution.

In the 2021 elections, the Guardian Council disqualified multiple reformist and moderate figures ahead of the presidential elections which brought the ultraconservative Raisi to power.

Those elections had a record low turnout for a presidential poll, at just 48.8 percent.

This month’s vote will be held during a turbulent time, as the Gaza war rages between Iran’s arch-foe Israel and Tehran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas, and amid continued diplomatic tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme.

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