686 Hopefuls Vying to Replace Ahmadinejad

Rafsanjani enters race at last minute
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2013 4:22 AM CDT
The front pages of the Sunday edition of Iranian newspapers, published with pictures of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjan.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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(Newser) – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's time is nearly up and nearly 700 candidates are vying to replace him as president of Iran, CNN reports. Iranian authorities say 686 hopefuls have registered for the election next month—but all the candidates need to be vetted by the Guardian Council controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has feuded with Ahmadinejad for years and may reject the candidacy of his deputy, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie.

If Mashaie—whose aides were arrested for summoning genies amid the power struggle with Khamenei—makes it through the vetting process, he is expected be a frontrunner. Another top-tier candidate is former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, a longtime Khamenei rival who supported the opposition Green movement after 2009's disputed election and entered the race just minutes before the deadline, Reuters reports. Saeed Jalili, Iran's senior nuclear negotiator and a hardline conservative, is seen as the leading candidate among Khamenei loyalists. (Read more Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stories.)

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