Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to run in presidential election

Man who held the office from 2005 to 2013 says he would make economy one of his priorities

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registers his candidacy for the presidential election at the Interior Ministry in Tehran. EPA
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Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will run again for the presidency in the June 28 elections, state media announced on Sunday.

He was filmed registering his candidacy at the Interior Ministry in Tehran, pledging to bolster Iran's economy in a video shown on state television.

The elections were announced following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash on May 19.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and several other officials were killed in the crash in north-western Iran as they returned from the Azerbaijan border.

“My most important motivation is to focus on solving economic problems,” Mr Ahmadinejad said in a speech aired by state TV.

Mr Ahmadinejad is regarded as a hardliner and was sanctioned by the US last year over the detention of American citizens, held for years in Tehran's Evin prison.

During his time in office, he was criticised for human rights abuses, economic policies which weakened the Iranian rial and stunted economic growth, and alleged involvement in the assassination of an exiled Kurdish politician.

He also accelerated Tehran's nuclear programme and hinted at building a nuclear weapon.

His re-election in 2009, viewed by opponents as rigged, prompted the Green Movement protests which at the time were the largest in Iran's history. Hundreds of people were arrested by security forces.

Former parliament speaker Ali Larijani, regarded as a moderate aligned with the former reformist president Hassan Rouhani, is also running.

The final list of candidates is to be decided by the Guardian Council, which is appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Masoud Zaribafan, who served as vice president under Mr Ahmadinejad, has also registered, alongside eight others, including Tehran mayor Alireza Zakani and Vahid Haghanian, a former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander and close aide to Mr Khamenei.

Hardliner Zohreh Elahian has also registered to run and would be the first women to run for president, if approved by the council.

The EU and Canada imposed sanctions on her for the crackdown on protesters, hundreds of whom were killed in demonstrations following the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022.

Both Mr Larijani and Mr Ahmadinejad were barred by the council from running in previous elections, with Mr Khamenei saying Mr Ahmadinejad would polarise Iran.

The former president has criticised Mr Khamenei in the past and called for “free elections.”

The 2021 election, won by Mr Raisi, who was expected to succeed Mr Khamenei as supreme leader, was criticised as a fix.

The council will release a list of approved candidates on June 11.

The elections come months after record low turnout in parliamentary elections, with only 41 per cent of eligible voters casting ballots.

Voter apathy has been compounded by economic issues, worsened by US sanctions, and Tehran's crackdown on anti-regime protesters, including the introduction of harsh laws against women who do not cover their heads in public.

Updated: June 02, 2024, 12:43 PM