by WorldTribune Staff, September 26, 2016
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has instructed former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to refrain from running for the presidency in next year’s elections, state media reported on Sept. 26.
“He (Ahmadinejad) came to me and I told him not to stand as I think it is not in his interest and that of the country,” Khamenei was quoted as saying. “It will create bipolar opposites and divisions in the country which I believe is harmful.”
Observers say the move by Khamenei, which was reported by state news agency IRNA, effectively eliminates the best chance for hardliners to unseat incumbent President Hassan Rouhani. The election is scheduled for May 19, 2017.
Another potential rival – Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the most high-profile face in the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria – said this month he would not seek the presidency.
While he has not announced his intention to run, Ahmadinejad has made several high-profile speeches in recent months, prompting speculation of a political comeback.
“Commentators had suggested the firebrand populist, who frequently enraged the West with his rhetoric during his eight years in office, would have given Iran’s conservatives their best chance of regaining power,” a report by Reuters said on Sept. 26.
Ahmadinejad was first elected president in 2005. He won again in 2009 in a contentious election that sparked protests and a security crackdown in which several people were killed and hundreds were arrested.
Iranian law bars a president from seeking a third consecutive term. But Ahmadinejad would have been able to run again after the gap caused by Rouhani’s term.