The short presidential election season in Iran has kicked off when several candidates signed up to be part of what promises to be a crowded camp.
From early Tuesday morning, dozens of Interior Ministry staff sat behind desktops, mounted two meters away, to register candidates who were required to wear masks and were only allowed to a small entourage, as the country continues to treat a fourth major wave of COVID-19 infections.
Candidate registration ended at 6pm local time, but potential candidates will have the same time periods allocated each day through Saturday to register and talk to reporters about their plans for the country at this vital juncture.
On the first day, two prominent military candidates registered. Hossein Dehghan, 64, is currently a defense adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei and was Minister of Defense during the first term of outgoing President Hassan Rouhani. He said he signed up to solve people’s problems and promised that his potential administration would treat people equally.
Saeed Mohammad, 53, said he presents himself as independent and wants to unite the country. The brigadier general was the commander of the powerful Khatam al-Anbiya construction headquarters until last month, when he said he resigned from running for president, but some members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ( IRGC) said he was fired for “rapes.”
The relatively young commander was then appointed advisor to IRGC Commander-in-Chief Hossein Salami.
“I know how to evade and overturn sanctions, while I will do so for them to be removed,” he said Tuesday on sanctions imposed unilaterally by the United States after this 2018 abandoning Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Both appeared to support the restoration of the 2015 nuclear deal. Delegates from Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the European Union are now in Vienna, as well as a northern delegation. American staying in a separate hotel, to negotiate the full return of the agreement by both Iran and the United States. .
The rest of the candidates who signed up on Tuesday were relatively or completely unknown.
As with previous election cycles, several eccentric characters were also enrolled. This year, they included a woman who came to register on her motorcycle (women are forbidden to travel to Iran), a man who said she has come to save humanity from extinction in the next 20 years and a large man dressed as a mortal and holding a Qur’an who repeatedly called out his desire to defend the constitution.
Disagreement on application criteria
According to Tasnim, a semi-official news website affiliated with conservatives, current head of justice Ebrahim Raisi will soon join the race for the presidency. Raisi, who competed unsuccessfully against Rouhani in 2017, would be one of the best candidates if he decides to run.
According to reports, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who also ran in 2017 but gave up his support for Raisi, told politicians he would not run again to support Raisi.
According to the election headquarters, more than 59 million people can vote in the June 18 election, about 1.4 million of whom are first-time voters. However, many observers believe that turnout will be low.
After Saturday, the main constitutional review body known as the Guardian Council will review the candidates and announce their final list before May 27th.
The vast majority of candidates are expected to be disqualified, as has been the case in previous ballots. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, no woman has been elected to the presidency of the council.
But internal clashes have only intensified this election cycle as the council and the presidency have clashed over the candidacy criteria.
Earlier this week, the council unilaterally proclaimed a number of conditions with the stated aim of eliminating unqualified candidates. These include an age limit of 40 to 75 years and the requirement to have at least four years of executive leadership experience.
This, in theory, would eliminate potential candidate Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, the current ICT minister who will turn 40 in September. It could also endanger several reformists, such as former Deputy Interior Minister Mostafa Tajzadeh, former diplomat Sadeq Kharrazi and former lawmakers Mahmoud Sadeqi and Mostafa Kavakebian.
Prominent reformist Tajzadeh announced Tuesday via a tweet that will be recorded Friday morning. He has previously said that if elected, he will make the supreme leader “responsible” and elected by the people, in addition to “returning the IRGC to the barracks.”
On Monday, President Rouhani ordered his interior ministry to ignore the proclamation, which some have criticized as illegal, and to continue as before.
But the council said it would refuse to consider candidates as formally registered if they do not provide all documents (including a lack of criminal record and a history of dissent), as requested.