Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has expressed support for the Guardians Council's disqualification of prominent moderate candidates seeking to run in the country's June 18 presidential election.
He also called on Iranians to vote in the election, which comes amid discontent over the economy crippled by U.S. sanctions and calls to boycott the vote due to tough vetting by the Guardians Council and other grievances.
"The honorable Guardians Council did what it ought to do and deemed necessary based on its duties," Khamenei, who has the last say in all matters in the Islamic republic, said on May 27, according to his website.
"Dear nation of Iran, do not pay attention to those who promote that voting is useless...the outcome of the election lasts for years. Participate in the elections," Khamenei was quoted as saying.
The Islamic establishment often uses usually high turnouts in the country’s elections to claim legitimacy.
Many have blasted the hard-line council over the extreme vetting, including Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
He was quoted by Iranian media as saying that "if I were in the place of approved candidates, I would withdraw [from the race.]"
Iran's outgoing President Hassan Rohani said on May 26 that he had appealed to Khamenei to intervene and widen the field in next month’s vote.
Rohani, who cannot seek a third term, said during a weekly cabinet meeting on May 26 that he wished the Guardians Council would select more candidates to ensure greater "competition" in the June vote.
The Guardians Council has approved only seven candidates, including two relatively unknown moderates, to run in the vote where, due to the vetting, hard-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi is in a dominant position.
Former parliament speaker Ali Larijani who was considered Raisi’s most serious rival, and Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, a reformist, were prevented from running.