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Guardian Council extends deadline to approve final candidates - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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An Iranian cleric arrives at the election headquarters of interior ministry to register his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election, under portraits of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, left, and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, May 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

An Iranian cleric arrives at the election headquarters of interior ministry to register his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election, under portraits of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, left, and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, May 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei announced yesterday that “the deadline for vetting presidential candidates has been extended for another 5 days, until May 21.” The Guardian Council will inform the interior ministry of the final list so that it can be conveyed to the candidates, who will then commence their campaign.

FARS news agency reported that Ayatollah Momen, a clerical member of the Guardian Council, had admitted in a meeting with Friday prayer imams in the city of Qom on Wednesday that “vetting 686 candidates is enormous and a very challenging task.”

Ayatollah Momen continued, saying, “There might be more than 10 eligible candidates approved by the Guardian Council.”

If more than 10 candidates are approved, it would be a first for the Islamic Republic.

In related news, the Entekhab website reported yesterday that it has insider information indicating that “in the first round of the Guardian Council’s vetting process, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei and Baqer Lankarani were disqualified, while Hashemi Rafsanjani, Baqer Qalibaf and Saeed Jalili have been approved.”

Rahim Mashaei is supported by the current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Baqer Lankarani is backed by hardline cleric Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi.

If the information about their disqualification is correct, then the fact that the vetting process has been extended for five days might be related.

Entekhab also reported on Thursday that the additional time the Guardian Council will take to form the final candidate list may be used for intense lobbying on behalf of Mashaei and Lankarani. Further documentation in support of their applications may also be submitted to the council during the additional five days.

In a meeting with university lecturers and students yesterday morning, another potential candidate, former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, reaffirmed his intention to run for the presidency. He said that his motive is solely to “improve the undesirable situation the country is struggling with,” reported the Fara-Ru website.

On Wednesday, Ayatollah Khamenei warned that the “enemy of the Iranian nation wants to halt Iran’s progress and take the country back into the past.”

The statement, which was also posted on the official website of the supreme leader, warned that the next president must be able to stand firm against Iran’s enemies. His references to “the past” and the next president “not [being] firm enough,” could be implicit references to both Hashemi Rafsanjani and Rahim Mashaei, respectively.

Recent attacks on these two candidates by principalists close to Ayatollah Khamenei have focused on rejecting the courses followed by previous governments.

It is now felt that the supreme leader’s preferred candidate for the presidency is one of Muhammed-Baqer Qalibaf, Ali Akbar Velayati, or Saeed Jalili.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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