Home iran Disqualified Presidential Candidates in Iran Lodge Protests

Disqualified Presidential Candidates in Iran Lodge Protests

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Three presidential candidates in Iran, who were barred from running, have issued statements criticizing the 12-member unelected Guardian Council, which operates under the influence of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The Guardian Council, which vets candidates, approved only six out of more than 80 who registered to run. Key figures, including former parliament speaker Ali Larijani and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, were disqualified.

Ali Larijani, the former Speaker of Parliament, whose qualification for the presidential election was rejected for the second consecutive term, said the Guardian Council’s mechanism is “non-transparent.” At the same time, two former senior officials Es’haq Jahangiri and Abbas Akhoundi have called on the Guardian Council to explain their disqualifications.

Over the past three decades, the Guardian Council has rejected hundreds of candidates in presidential and parliamentary elections. However, the practice has become more notorious since 2020, as the Council has barred non-hardliners from running in two parliamentary and one presidential vote. In 2021 also, key candidates were blocked, paving the way for hardliner Ebrahim Raisi from winning in a low-turnout election.

On Monday, Larijani published a message, the full text of which was posted on the social media platform X, stating that despite positive opinions from responsible institutions and a ruling from the judiciary dismissing some of the council’s past claims, the Guardian Council, with a “non-transparent mechanism,” prevented his re-nomination.

In his protest letter on Monday, Larijani wrote: “What prompted me to enter the election was the prevailing critical situation, especially in the realm of the harsh economic conditions and Iran’s sensitive international position, particularly the oppressive sanctions impacting the livelihoods of our dear people. I hoped that with your help, we could overcome these obstacles and pave the way for Iran’s national development.”

Previously, Larijani, as the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, played a role in negotiations on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear issue with global powers. He also contributed to the formation of the long-term agreement between the Islamic Republic and China.

Es’haq Jahangiri speaking with former President Hassan Rouhani. Undated

Former President Hassan Rouhani’s top aide and vice president Es’haq Jahangiri also protested the rejection of his qualification in a post on X. He demanded that the Guardian Council should disclose the reasons behind its decision. In previous elections, Jahangiri’s candidacy for the presidential election had been approved.

Abbas Akhoundi, a former minister, and another disqualified candidate, addressed the chairman of the Guardian Council, 97-year-old Ahmad Jannati in a statement on the social media platform X. He wrote, “I suspect that some reports received by the Council may have created ambiguities in the minds of some esteemed members of the Council.”

He added, “I wish to defend my legal rights and those of the voters in an official session of the Council. Therefore, I request to be present at the Council’s meeting within the legally prescribed timeframe to provide the necessary explanations.”

So far, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has not issued a statement about his own disqualification. He was considered a key candidate with a potential large voter base among ordinary people. Ahmadinejad, who was also barred from the 2017 presidential elections, has become a vocal critic of the top echelons of the regime, and promised major changes if elected president.