Ahmadinejad registers as candidate in Iranian presidential election

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Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad officially registered on Wednesday morning to run in the upcoming presidential race in his country, which will take place in May.

In 2005, Ahmadinejad said "Israel must be wiped off the map" and has been criticized for calling the Holocaust "a myth".

Ahmadinejad said the comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last September, warning that his candidacy could create division in the country and harm the nation, were "just advice". His pro-reform rivals said that vote was rigged. The abrupt change of heart seems to indicate that Ahmadinejad either suddenly has Ali Khamenei's backing, or no longer seeks the supreme leader's approval. Hamad Baghaie served under him as vice president. They also stand opposed to Iran's backing of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad. Half the 12-member council's members are selected by Iran's supreme leader and half by the country's judicial chief with parliament's approval.

According to BBC Persian, Ahmadinejad held hands with one of his close associates, chanting "Long live Iran, Long live Spring". At the registration center, the former leader stated that the Khamenei's "advice was not a ban". Hard-liners in Iran are indeed hoping for a tough-talking candidate who can stand up to US President Donald Trump. The lawmakers, however, can only choose the latter half from nominees approved by the head of the Judicial Council, who is also directly appointed by Khamenei.

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Former leader insists he will not run in the May 19 poll, saying his registration aims to support a political ally.

"Ahmadinejad's faction is still alive".

Mr Rouhani and his allies have criticisedMr Ahmadinejad's free-spending policies for fuelling inflation and accuse him of wasting Iran's oil revenues.

Mr Ahmadinejad's eight years in office saw a tightening of worldwide sanctions on the Islamic Republic to curb its nuclear program.

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Although Mr Rouhani won in a single round with more than 50 per cent of the vote four years ago when no other candidate won more than 17 per cent, he could face a more hard campaign this time if hardliners unite against him.

Rouhani, however, has so far refused to announce his candidature, nor has he associated himself with either of the main electoral currents, the Principlist and Reformist camps.

Ebrahim Raisi, a judge who now heads the powerful Imam Reza charitable foundation in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Mashhad, topped the shortlist.

Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a moderate leader and former prime minister, along with Mahdi Karroubi, another candidate in the 2009 election, have remained under house arrest since the 2009 contested elections which resulted in widespread protests on the streets of Iranian cities, notably in Tehran. "Disqualifying Ahmadinejad is hard, but not impossible".

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