Iran says a conservative body has barred two prominent figures from competing in next month's presidential election -- moderate former president Hashemi Rafsanjani and a leading conservative allied to current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Esfandiar Rahim Mashai (L) registered his candidacy accompanied by Ahmadinejad
The Iranian interior ministry said Tuesday the Guardian Council of clerics
and jurists excluded the two politicians from a final list of eight candidates
approved for the June 14 vote. Hundreds of people had applied to be candidates
for the election.
A Guardian Council spokesman said Monday the body would exclude any candidate deemed physically too weak to do the president's job. Many observers saw that as a reference to Mr. Rafsanjani, who is 78.
Former president Hashemi Rafsanjani
Ahmadinejad aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei also was disqualified.
Ultraconservatives loyal to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had
strongly opposed the potential candidacies of both Mashaei and Rafsanjani.
The approved list of candidates is dominated by ultraconservative loyalists of the Supreme Leader.
Mr. Ahmadinejad and his aides have fallen out of favor with ultraconservatives after years of power struggles with Iran's ruling clerics.
The Iranian president is constitutionally barred from running for a third term in office.
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