TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Iran on Tuesday announced seven hopefuls found qualified by the Constitutional Council to run in next month’s presidential poll.
The Council approved seven candidates out of 40 who met the country’s basic criteria. They included former chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, veteran politician Mohsen Rezaei, and current Central Bank governor Abdolnaser Hemmati and judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi.
The list also includes MPs Alireza Zakani and Amirhussein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi and ex-vice president Mohsen Mehralizadeh.
Raisi is the most-known candidate of the seven hopefuls, with opinion polling previously showing his anti-corruption campaign drew Iranian support.
He won 38 percent of the vote in 2017 elections but was lost it to now-President Hassan Rouhani, who is constitutionally barred from running for a third term.
The Constitutional Council, which vets election candidates, barred a number of hopefuls, including former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former parliament speaker Ali Larijani, current vice president Es’haq Jahangiri and MP Massoud Pezeshkian.
Fars news agency had reported the disqualification of the three heavyweights on Monday night. It described the move as a “no to those who created the status quo”, implying Iran’s economic problems which are widely seen the result of the current government’s mismanagement.
Rouhani and his allies have blamed most of Iran’s economic woes on U.S. sanctions and given top priority to talks aimed at reviving Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal, which former U.S. president Donald Trump quit.
Larijani conceded his disqualification on Tuesday, although technically he had until midnight overnight on Tuesday to lodge an appeal.
“Dear nation of Iran; now that the election was decided to be so, I have fulfilled my duty,” he wrote on Twitter. “I am content with God’s will,” he wrote, calling on Iranians to turn up and vote “for the progress” of the nation.
Analyst Muhammad Imani said that Raisi had already “topped all the polls” and his potential win would be more credible if he had more competitors.
Raisi said he had busy since Monday “making calls” and “consultations” to keep more hopefuls in the poll.
“Ever since I was informed about (the list) yesterday evening, I started making calls and am busy consulting so that the election scene can be more competitive with a high turnout,” he wrote on Twitter.