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Iranian ex-president Ahmadinejad banned from running in presidential election

Iranian ex-president Ahmadinejad banned from running in presidential electionAn Iranian panel charged with vetting candidates approved the country's incumbent president and five challengers but disqualified former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from running in next month's presidential election.

This is reported by Associated Press.

The Guardian Council, a cleric-dominated body, controls elections and must approve all laws passed by parliament.

The decision by the Guardian Council means that President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, will face off against a field that includes two prominent hard-liners: Ebrahim Raisi, who is considered close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf.

Other presidential candidates who made the cut, according to an Interior Ministry statement carried by state TV, include moderate Senior Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, former conservative culture minister Mostafa Mirsalim, and former pro-reform vice president Mostafa Hashemitaba.

Ahmadinejad, who remains a deeply polarising figure even among Iranian hard-liners, had shocked the country by registering last week. Khamenei had previously urged him not to run.

Ahmadinejad was president from 2005 to 2013 and was best known abroad for his incendiary rhetoric toward Israel, his questioning of the scale of the Holocaust and his efforts to ramp up Iran's nuclear program.

He said upon registering that he was doing so to support his former Vice President Hamid Baghaei, who also failed to receive approval to run.

"He was an unwanted guest in the election," Tehran-based political analyst Soroush Farhadi said of Ahmadinejad's disqualification. He predicted the former president would nonetheless remain politically active during the campaign to create a "quasi-opposition face for himself" for the future.
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