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Iran names presidential candidates, disqualifies Rouhani’s allies

Iran’s Guardian Council has named seven men to contest the June 18 presidential election, barring prominent candidates allied with its current president amid tensions with the West over its obsolete 2015 nuclear deal.

On Tuesday,     Iranian state television carried an announcement saying that head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, who is linked to mass executions in 1988, and six other candidates had received approval to run in the election.

 Mr. Raisi, widely seen as a favorite of Iran’s eighty-two-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Is also the best-known candidate among the seven.

Recent opinion polling indicate that the anti-corruption campaign of the hardline cleric has helped to boost his popularity among ordinary Iranians, many of who already see him as the front-runner in the race for president.

But perhaps most notable was who Iran’s Guardian Council barred from running. Chief among them was former parliament speaker Ali Larijani, a conservative who allied with outgoing President Hassan Rouhani in recent years. Mr. Larijani had been positioning himself as a pragmatic candidate who would back Mr. Rouhani’s signature 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

In Vienna, Austria, diplomats from the six other signatory-countries are now trying to negotiate a return of both Iran and the US to the accord.

A source close to Mr. Larijani’s family said the Guardian Council rejected his candidacy because his daughter lives in the US

Other disqualified candidates include, former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who ignored a warning from Mr. Khamenei in 2017 and registered, only to be rejected then as well, and Eshaq Jahangiri, Mr. Rouhani’s senior vice-president and easily the most prominent reformist to run.

Earlier in the day, state TV quoted Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, the spokesman of the twelve-member Guardian Council, as saying “only seven” candidates had been approved out of some 590 who registered.

In 2017, 1,630 hopefuls registered to run.

Analysts say within Iran’s Islamic republic, , candidates exist on a political spectrum that broadly includes hard-liners who want to expand the country’s nuclear program and confront the world, moderates who hold onto the status quo and reformists who want to change the theocracy from within.

They say it’s those calling for radical change that find themselves barred from even running for office by the Khamenei-led Guardian Council, which also refuses to allow women to contest.

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