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Iran Hard-Liners Call For Election Ban On Two Prominent Candidates


Iranian presidential candidates Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei (left) and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

Iranian presidential candidates Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei (left) and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

Iranian media reports say hard-line lawmakers have petitioned authorities to bar two prominent contenders from next month's presidential election.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency said on May 15 that around 100 lawmakers sent a petition to the Guardians Council, which vets potential candidates, to disqualify ex-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a close aide to President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

The council has until May 21 to announce a shortlist of candidates that will contest the June 14 election.

The candidacy of Mashaei and Rafsanjani, a moderate conservative backed by reformists, presents a challenge to conservative front-runners loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ahmadinejad, constitutionally barred from running for office, has backed Mashaei despite disapproval from Khamenei.

Ultraconservatives have denounced Mashaei as part of a "deviant current" opposing Islamic rule.

Based on reporting by AP, Fars, and Mehr
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