September 21, 2016
Iran’s Supreme Leader has barred former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from standing in the 2017 Presidential election, according to the former director of an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps media outlet.
Mehdi Fazaeli, who directed the Fars News Agency, said Khamenei issued the ban in a meeting with Ahmadinejad to prevent the repetition of the past “costly and detrimental experiences”.
Fazaeli added that 10 of the 12 members of the Guardian Council, who must approve Presidential candidates, had expressed objections to an Ahmadinejad campaign.
Several other media outlets reported the meeting, but did not give details.
Fazaeli’s account may have a political motivation. The IRGC were often at odds with Ahmadinejad, particularly in the latter years of his Presidency between 2005 and 2013. The former President even accused the Guards of corruption, with smuggling through illegal docks and ports.
In a long diatribe, Fazaeli said:
We should not forget that the second term of Ahmadinejad’s Presidency was one of the most stressful. It also cannot be ignored that we have seen little sign of change in his attitude and behavior.
Speculation has risen about an Ahmadinejad attempt to regain his post, fed by his appearances at public meetings and rallies. Earlier this summer, the Interior Ministry warned Ahmadinejad that any campaigning before the official start of the election is prohibited.
A series of regime figures have tried to pre-empt Ahmadinejad with denunciations. Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, the Friday Prayer Leader in Mashhad, said:
Mr. Ahmadinejad was an individual who went astray, died and is finished. Ahmadinejad is not a movement. He stood against the Guardianship of the Jurist [Supreme Leader] and collapsed.
Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor-in-chief of the hardline outlet Kayhan, reportedly noted Ahmadinejad’s dispute with the Supreme Leader in 2011 — with the President staging an 11-day boycott of his duties — and concluded, “When the Hezbollahis [religious conservatives] see this, they will not vote for him. I think it is unlikely that the Guardian Council will approve his qualifications.”
Another leading conservative cleric, Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghadam, asserted, “Ahmadinejad is not competent enough to return to power. He has ruined his image among many distinguished figures and this has pushed him to the sidelines.”