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Iran bars candidates for presidential election

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-05-22 07:56

TEHRAN  -- In a statement issued by Iranian Interior Ministry on Tuesday, the presidential hopefuls Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, former moderate president, and Esfandiar Rahim- Mashaei, top aide of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, were not qualified for the country's upcoming presidential election.

The statement said that Iran's Guardian Council of Constitution, the high legislative body of the country, has approved the qualification of eight presidential candidates.

According to the statements, the qualified candidates, including Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, former Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Velayati, senior lawmaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, former senior military commander Mohsen Rezaei, ex-nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani, ex- Oil and Telecommunication Minister Mohammad Gharazi as well as Mohammad-Reza Aref, who served as the former Iranian first vice president under the reformist President Mohammad Khatami, can start their campaign from Wednesday until June 13.

In his reaction to Guardian Council's decision, Rahim-Mashaei said that "I consider my disqualification an injustice and will ( try to) solve the issue through the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei)," semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Lawfully, Iran's supreme leader enjoys the authority, by means of issuing a "Governmental Decree," to intervene in such cases in favor of disqualified candidate.

"I hope the problem will be solved in this way," Rahim-Mashaei was quoted as saying.

Rahim-Mashaei, confidant to Ahmadinejad, is detested by many senior clerics and conservative politicians who accuse him of leading a "deviant current" that puts Iranian nationalism on par with Islam.

Meanwhile, the advisor to Hashemi-Rafsanjani told Fars on Tuesday that the ex-president has always been serving the Islamic establishment, the Islamic revolution and its leadership and will remain loyal to it.

"For sure, he will give his opinion about Guardian Council's decision, but his (political) record shows that he performs within the framework of the law and national interests," the advisor, Mohammad-Reza Sadeq, was quoted as saying.

Sadeq urged the supporters of Hashemi-Rafsanjani to respect the law and follow the path that he chooses.

Major reformist groups and moderate conservatives had extended their support for nearly 80-year-old candidate Hashemi-Rafsanjani.

Implicitly referring to Hashemi-Rafsanjani's age, spokesman of Iran's Guardian Council of Constitution, Abbasali Kadkhodaei, said Monday that the next Iranian president should be physically competent to be able to work for hours.

According to the Interior Ministry, 686 candidates had registered for the upcoming presidential election of the Islamic republic slated for June 14.

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