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Iran qualifies 8 candidates, bars 2 hopefuls ahead of presidential race


19:23, May 22, 2013

TEHRAN, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Guardian Council of Constitution announced the names of eight eligible candidates for the upcoming presidential election while barring two major political figures from running for presidency.

Among the qualified candidates, nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, former foreign minister Ali- Akbar Velayati, senior lawmaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, and former senior military commander Mohsen Rezaei are principlist conservatives.

Former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani and former Oil and Telecommunication minister Mohammad Gharazi, both moderate candidates, were also qualified by the Council.

Mohammad-Reza Aref, who served as former first vice president under reformist President Mohammad Khatami, is also among the qualified hopefuls.

Observers say the lineup for the presidential race is dominated by conservative principlists while their major moderate or reformist rivals have been excluded. In the statement by the Interior Ministry on Tuesday, Iranians learned that major presidential hopefuls Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, former moderate president, and Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, a top aide of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, were disqualified for the election.

In response, Rahim-Mashaei said "I consider my disqualification an injustice and will (try to) solve the issue through the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei)," semi-official Fars news agency reported.

According to the law, Iran's supreme leader has the power to intervene in such cases.

Also, Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that he will take up the ban against his ally with the supreme leader, semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

Ahmadinejad said with the leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei, the rights of the oppressed would not be ignored. "I will take up the issue with him and pursue it to the last moment."

He advised his followers and supporters of Rahim-Mashaei to be "patient" until the issue is solved, according to the report.

Meanwhile, an advisor to Hashemi-Rafsanjani told Fars on Tuesday the ex-president "will give his opinion about Guardian Council's decision, but ... he performs within the framework of the law and national interests."

The advisor urged the supporters of Hashemi-Rafsanjani to respect the law and follow the path that he chooses.

The statement by the Interior Ministry said that the qualified candidates can start their campaign from Wednesday until June 13.

According to the Ministry, 686 candidates had registered for the June 14 presidential election.

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