Defying Iran's supreme leader, Ahmadinejad is staging his political comeback


Ex-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has submitted his name for registration as a candidate in Iran's presidential election in May, state media reports.

Global economic sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear ambitions have been eased since the negotiation of a landmark 2015 deal that limits its nuclear program.

When asked why he had consistently denied intending to run in recent months, the former president reacted with a smile. There was no immediate reaction from the supreme leader's office.

Former hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced he will stand again in Iran's upcoming elections, an unexpected move which could upend the country's political landscape. His decision to run was unexpected, as the nation's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had advised against Ahmadinejad running for the presidency.

Ahmadinejad had also said he would submit to the advice and had "no plans to partake in the polls".

Ahmadinejad accompanied Baghaei to the interior ministry on Wednesday for registration. The Times quotes two Iranian political analysts who say they don't think Ahmadinejad's candidacy will be accepted; such a rejection could bring protests and would deepen a rift between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad that's been traced as far back as 2007. Current President Hassan Rouhani - until now seen as a shoe-in for a second term in office - hasn't even registered for the election yet, though 197 other hopefuls have.

But if he does, his entry into the race is likely to take some of the shine off the hardliners' preferred candidate, Ebrahim Raisi.

"In the past, a few elders would sit and come out with some choices, but now it has become a process like a referendum where forces at the bottom can influence the final decision", Abdolhossein Moslemi, a cleric, told AFP. He recently joined Twitter.

A total of 126 candidates, including six women, have registered their names to run in the May 19 polls.

Rouhani spent the majority of the conference defending his record on helping improve conditions for poor Iranians and the benefits that the country's has experienced from his efforts to lift global sanctions. Under the nuclear deal, Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of worldwide sanctions.