High-Profile Figures Sign Up for Presidential Polls

Former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said he signed up for the May election to reinforce his ally Hamid Baqaei's presidential bid
Presidential hopefuls register for the second day at the Interior Ministry in Tehran on April 12.Presidential hopefuls register for the second day at the Interior Ministry in Tehran on April 12.

Several high-profile politicians signed up to run for president on Wednesday, the second registration day.

The signing up process for the May 19 presidential election started at the Interior Ministry's Election Headquarters in Tehran on Tuesday and runs until Saturday.

Applicants included Hamid Baqaei, a former deputy of previous president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had previously announced his intention to become a presidential candidate.

Ahmadinejad himself signed up alongside his close confidant, a surprise move for many Iranians.

As recently as April 5, Ahmadinejad had said in a press conference that he has no plan for running in the race and will only support Baqaei.

The 59-year-old politician, whose eight-year presidency was mired in deep controversy, was advised last September by the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei not to sign up for the presidential election to avoid a "polarizing" effect in the country.

In an open letter to the Leader released a few days after his recommendation, Ahmadinejad wrote he adheres to the word and will not put himself up for the May 19 vote.

Defending the decision, Ahmadinejad told reporters after submitting his name that he remains bound to his "moral commitment" and the registration is only meant for supporting Baqaei. He did not elaborate on how his registration will help Baqaei.

Masoud Zaribafan, a former head of the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs and former Tehran councilor, and Mohammad Ali Pourmokhtar, a member of Majlis Judicial and Legal Affairs Commission, were other well-known figures who registered on Wednesday.

On the first day of registration, about 126 prospective candidates registered, with ages ranging from 18 to 79.

Among them was Mostafa Mirsalim, a member of Islamic Coalition Party and a former minister of culture and Islamic guidance under the late president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

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