x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Iran electoral watchdog hints at Rafsanjani rejection

Iran will bar physically feeble candidates from running for president, in an apparent hint that it could disqualify 78-year-old former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from the race.

Iran will bar physically feeble candidates from running for president, in an apparent hint that it could disqualify 78-year-old former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from the race.

Mr Rafsanjani, if he is allowed to run, would be a significant challenge to conservative hardliners who are loyal to the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and who otherwise dominate the field for the June 14 presidential election.

The wily, pragmatic religious leader, who has often been close to the heart of power since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, shook up the election contest this month when he joined the race.

But the Guardian Council, a conservative body of clerics and jurists that vets all candidates, may disqualify him, along with Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a close ally of the outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who also registered to run at the last moment.

"If an individual who wants to take up a high post can only perform a few hours of work each day, naturally that person cannot be confirmed," the Guardian Council spokesman, Abbas Ali Kadkhodai, said yesterday, according to the ISNA news agency.

Mr Kadkhodai did not name Mr Rafsanjani. The council is due to present a final list of approved candidates today to the interior ministry, which then has two days to announce it.