Iran: Ahmadinejad challenges ally Mashaei's election ban

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Iran: Ahmadinejad challenges ally Mashaei's election ban

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is challenging the ban of close aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei from the presidential election on June 14.

Ahmadinejad said he would take the issue up with Supreme Leader Ayatolla Ali Khamenei.

The President described Mashaei, his former chief of staff, as a “righteous person, beneficial for the country,” according to ISNA news agency.

Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was also ruled out of the shortlist of candidates – leaving the field dominated by hardline conservatives with close links to Iran’s ruling clerics.

A Tehran resident said: “The decision regarding Mr. Mashaei was right my opinion, because he’s really not qualified enough for the presidency. But Mr. Rafsanjani’s disqualification was a real surprise, a big shock.”

Out of more than 600 people who registered, only eight are being allowed to stand.

Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is considered to be a front runner.