Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 'barred from standing in Iran's presidential elections'

Jon Sharman
Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: REUTERS

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has reportedly been barred from standing in Iran's presidential elections.

The former leader's candidacy was blocked by a clerical body that vets election candidates, state media reported.

The hardline ex-president unexpectedly announced his candidacy earlier this month.

May’s election is widely expected to be won by current moderate President Hassan Rouhani, best known outside the country for his negotiation of a nuclear deal with world powers.

Mr Rouhani was endorsed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in September 2016, who also recommended that Mr Ahmadinejad should not run. Without naming the former president, he said one candidate should not seek office as it would bring about a “polarised situation” that would be “harmful for the county”.

Mr Ahmadinejad, who remains a deeply polarising figure even among Iranian hard-liners, had shocked the country by registering last week.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had previously urged him not to run.

Mr 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 programme.

The Guardian Council, a clerical body that vets candidates, said it had compiled a final list of candidates earlier on Thursday and that the Interior Ministry would announce their names by Sunday.

Additional reporting by agencies