Iran’s ex-president Ahmadinejad announces presidential bid

TEHRAN — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s hardline former president, has registered to run in the country’s upcoming presidential election on June 28, following the death of Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month, according to state television reports on Sunday.

However, Ahmadinejad’s candidacy is not guaranteed. The Guardian Council, a cleric-led body responsible for vetting candidates, will publish the list of qualified contenders on June 11.

Ahmadinejad, who served as president from 2005 to 2013, was previously barred from running in the 2017 election after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei advised him against it, citing the country’s best interests.

A former member of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, Ahmadinejad’s tenure was marked by controversy and a subsequent rift with Khamenei, particularly after advocating for limitations on the Supreme Leader’s authority. In 2018, he openly criticized Khamenei, calling for “free” elections in a letter.

Khamenei had initially supported Ahmadinejad, notably during his contested 2009 re-election, which sparked widespread protests. The unrest, which resulted in dozens of deaths and hundreds of arrests, was eventually suppressed by security forces led by the Revolutionary Guards.

Ahmadinejad’s return to the political scene underscores the ongoing tensions and power struggles within Iran’s political hierarchy as the nation prepares for a pivotal election.