April 21 (UPI) — Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose diatribes against the United States and Israel made him a polarizing figure, was barred Thursday from running for office again.
The clerical Guardian Council, which vets Iran’s political candidates, disqualified Ahmadinejad without explanation. He was one of hundreds of potential candidates blocked from running in May’s presidential election.
Ahmadinejad, who served two terms from 2005-13, was among 1,600 applicants, even though the clerical body usually selects only six candidates.
President Hassan Rouhani and Ebrahim Raisi, considered the leading challenger to Rouhani, were among six candidates approved for the May 19 vote.
Ahmadinejad, a defendant in several pending cases, surprised the nation by submitting his name because Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, told him not to run.
Hamid Baghaie, a close ally of Ahmadinejad who faces embezzlement charges, also was disqualified.