Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registers to run for Iran's next president

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In Sept. 2016, local media quoted Iran's Supreme Leader as saying that "I do not find it advisable that you (Ahmadinejad) participate" in the next presidential elections.

Mr Ahmadinejad, whose two terms in office were marred by repeated confrontations with the United States and Western powers, said last week he had no plans to stand in the election and that he would instead endorse Mr Baghaei.

Now, the controversial leader - whose followers once routinely chanted "death to America!" - is throwing his hat into the latest race to become Iran's president once again, a polarizing last minute move before the country's May 19 election.

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Ahmadinejad had earlier reiterated that he would not stand for the elections, on the recommendation of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "I registered merely to support Baghaei and I will act according to the [supreme] leader's advice", Ahmadinejad said. Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election sparked massive internal unrest. Coming back to the political stage now could reopen those wounds. "Hardliners have struggled to rally behind a single candidate to challenge President Rouhani, who's hoping that a general uptick in the economy since the Iran nuclear deal with world powers will boost his chances".

The registration move is expected to set up a stark confrontation with presidential hopefuls on the principlist front, particularly cleric Ebrahim Raisi who is seen as a main challenger to pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani who is constitutionally allowed to seek a second term.

In 2015 Rouhani signed the historic nuclear deal, which may have limited Tehran's nuclear ability but lifted global oil and financial sanctions which had significantly hurt the country's economy. Many Iranians have grown impatient with the slow rate of improvement in their economic fortunes since the lifting of sanctions previous year.

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Since the deal, Iran has signed multi-billion-dollar contracts with airplane manufacturers Boeing and Airbus. Critics believe Ahmadinejad won't make it past that stage.

The registration process began on April 11 and will continue for five days. There was no immediate reaction from the supreme leader's office. Even if his candidacy is given the green light, it's unclear whether he has enough popular support to win.

The clerical body will announce a final list of vetted candidates on 27 April.

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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.

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