Ex-Iranian President Ahmadinejad Registers for Presidential Candidacy

The former president of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shocked the country Wednesday when he registered to run in next month's presidential election - despite recently saying he had no interest in the job.

Ahmadinejad, who filled the role of the country's chief executive for two consecutive mandates starting in 2005, signed up for the competition at the Election Office, which is based within the Interior Ministry's premises in the capital Tehran on Wednesday.

At least 120 people have submitted their names as candidates for president since registration opened on Tuesday, including several of Mr Ahmadinejad's allies. He also registered his name to run in the presidential election. During his term, the UN Security Council imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

All potential candidates have to be vetted by the Guardian Council and many observers believe Mr Ahmadinejad will not pass this hurdle. 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 left office in August 2013 after two troublesome four-year terms, which left Iran divided, isolated and struggling to find its footing economically. There was no immediate reaction from Khamenei's office.

Many hard-liners in Iran seek a tough-talking candidate to rally around who can stand up to US President Donald Trump.

Millions of people demanded a re-run, but the supreme leader insisted the result was valid and ordered a major crackdown on dissent that saw dozens of opposition supporters killed and thousands detained.

Ahmadinejad was accompanying Baghaei, who also went through the registration process.

"He won't be qualified by the Guardian Council for sure given his background", he told the Tehran Times, citing Ahmadinejad's disobedience to abide by law during his presidency and opposition to the Leader, which he said is constitutionally a breach of law. The oldest candidate is a 79-year-old man and the youngest is an 18-year-old man, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

The election on 19 May is being seen by many in Iran as a referendum on the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers and its ability to improve the country's sanctions-hobbled economy. Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions.

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