Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes surprise bid to run for Iran's presidency

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes surprise bid to run for Iran's presidency

Mr Ahmadinejad said the recommendation by Ayatollah Khamenei was "just advice", as he registered alongside his former vice president Hamid Baghaei, a close confidant.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's decision to register is the biggest surprise so far in the presidential election. Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes. The Guardian Council has stopped hundreds of candidates from participating in past elections. Israel is staunchly opposed to Ahmadinejad, who questioned the scale of the Holocaust and called for Israel's destruction as he presided over a massive expansion of Iran's nuclear activities.

Ahmadinejad had served as President of Iran for a consecutive eight years, beginning from 2005.

Ayatollah Khamenei had indicated he did not want Mr Ahmadinejad to stand and it is unusual for anyone in the political establishment to go against the supreme leader's wishes.

Ahmadinjead is most notable for being the president whose reelection was tainted by irregularities, which in turn sparked the Green Movement of 2009, which saw hundreds of thousands of Iranians take the streets in protest.

FILE- In this Wednesday, April, 5, 2017 file photo, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gives a press conference in Tehran, Iran.

The registration will last for five days and all the hopefuls will undergo the subsequent vetting process by the country's high legislative body, namely the Guardian Council of the Constitution. "He enjoys the support of the poor and lower-income in the cities", said Mr Leylaz.

"Most likely, he will not be qualified", Tehran-based political analyst Saeed Leylaz said hours after Ahmadinejad's registration.

This could set up a contest pitting Ahmadinejad, known for his hardline views, against the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, who has pursued a more moderate path since winning the 2013 election.

"I think the ruling system wants him to come as a reaction to Trump", Karegar said.

Ahmadinejad, who was term-limited in 2013, joined Twitter last month, perhaps signaling his readiness to return to the public stage.

The May 19 election is seen by many in Iran as a referendum on the 2015 nuclear agreement and other efforts to improve the country's sanctions-hobbled economy. On Sunday, Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric close to Khamenei, announced he would put his name on the list. Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions.

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