It is the last day for hopefuls to register as candidates in Iran’s Presidential election, scheduled for 14 June.
Among the big questions:
1. When will President Ahmadinejad’s camp put forth its candidate? Will it be Ahmadinejad’s right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, or — anticipating the Guardian Council’s rejection of Rahim-Mashai — will the President’s inner circle unveil an alternative such as former Government spokesperson Gholam Hossein Elham or Minister of Transport Ali Nikzad?
2. Will former President Hashemi Rafsanjani enter the contest? His office has announced a press conference for 3 p.m. local time (1030 GMT).
3. Will the Supreme Leader’s 2+1 Committee make any move for a “unity” candidate? Indications are that they will put this off, with all three members putting in their names and a final decision later this month after the Guardian Council’s vetting of the candidates.
Prominent Figures Blocked from Standing in Local Elections
Is this a sign of developments to come in the Presidential campaign?
Officials have begun the rejection of hopefuls from local elections, to be held at the same time as the Presidential ballot.
Among those who have been blocked are Mohsen Hashemi, the son of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, former Vice President Massoumeh Ebtekar, and former reformist MP Fatehmeh Rakei.
Syria Watch: Armed Forces Chief of Staff Praises Hezbollah, Assad
Maj. Gen. Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi, the Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces, has praised Hezbollah’s role in “shaping the resistance” in Syria, according to Sepah News, the Revolutionary Guards’ official public relations site.
Firouzabadi said that Bashar al-Assad’s “strong will” coupled with Hezbollah’s “resistance” was consistent across Syria.
Syria’s victory against “idolatry, arrogance and Wahhabi extremism” was centered around Assad and had been achieved because of his “resistance and courageous intelligence and support for the Syrian national consciousness”, Firouzabadi said.
Election Watch: Qalibaf and Davood Ahmadinejad Register
Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Davood Ahmadinejad — brother of the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — registered their candidacies on Saturday morning, the final day for presidential hopefuls to formally declare their wish to run.
Davood Ahmadinejad was the first presidential hopeful to register on Saturday, attending the Interior Ministry at 08:30 Tehran time, and told reporters he intended to run as an independent candidate, according to the Tabnak news website.
Qalibaf is the second member of the pro-Khamenei 2+1 Committee to register. Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel put his name down to run on Friday, leaving only Khamenei senior aide Ali Akbar Velayati.
Javad Etaat, a professor of political science at Shahid Behesti University also registered on Saturday morning. Following the disputed 2009 elections, Etaat criticized state media, accusing state broadcaster IRIB of being one-sided in its election coverage.
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