TEHRAN: Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put his name forward on Wednesday as a candidate to succeed President Hassan Rouhani in elections next month.

The 64-year-old populist leader was applauded by several dozen supporters as he arrived at the interior ministry to submit his application.

“Millions of people across the country have invited me to stand for election, and even ordered me to come here to register, placing a heavy responsibility on my shoulders,” Ahmadinejad said.

The build-up to June 18 polls comes as Iran and world powers wrangle over reviving a 2015 nuclear accord, from which the US withdrew unilaterally in 2018, re-imposing crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic.

Hopefuls have until Saturday to register, and will then be vetted by the conservative-dominated Guardian Council before a list of approved candidates is published by May 27, after which campaigning begins.

Iranian media considers Ahmadinejad’s chances of being approved are close to zero.

He said that if he is not approved, he will “not participate” in the election, either by backing a candidate or voting.

Ahmadinejad claimed, as he has often done in recent years, that the Iranian people have lost confidence in the country’s authorities.

He added that he considered the upcoming election as “perhaps the last chance” to save the Islamic republic in the face of “very sensitive” challenges, both domestic and international.

Iran’s president from 2005 to 2013, Ahmadinejad had to stand down at the end of two consecutive terms as per the constitution. His successor Rouhani will face the same obligation in June.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2021

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